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Presented by: John F. Evans 
In memory of: J. Fred Evans 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



Walter w. Mclaughlin, 



Aspen, Colorado 

March, 1886. 









Vol. I. 1516-1521. 



Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1883, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All Rights Reserved. 


As the third greatest of the world's republics, 
wherein society and civilization are displayed under 
somewhat abnormal aspects, under aspects at least 
widely different from those present in other than 
Spanish -speaking communities, configurations and 
climates, races and race intermixtures, civil and re- 
ligious polities, and the whole range of mental and 
physical environment being in so many respects ex- 
ceptional and individual, Mexico presents a study 
one of the most interesting and profitable of any 
among the nations of to-day. 

A brilliant though unjust and merciless conquest 
was followed by the enforcement of Spain's institu- 
tions upon the survivors, who were themselves so far 
advanced in arts, industries, and intellectual culture 
as to render such metamorphosis most disastrous. 
After the awful success of Cortes, Spain neither ex- 
terminated the natives, like the United States, nor left 
them in their aboriginal independence, like the fur- 
magnates of British America. Aiming at the utmost 
kindness, the Spanish government fastened on body 
and soul the iron fetters of tyranny and superstition ; 
aiming at liberty and humanity, slavery and wrong 
were permitted. With grants of land, grants of men 



and women were made. The church fought valiantly 
against the evils of the encomienda system, and 
against the cruelty and injustice imposed by the colo- 
nists upon the natives. There was here little of that 
wholesome indifference to the welfare of her colonies 
later manifested by England with regard to her settle- 
ments in America. Spain's American possessions be- 
longed not to the Spanish people but to the Spanish 
sovereign; the lands and the people were the king's, 
to be held or disposed of as he should direct. Hence 
among the people were encouraged dividing castes; 
commerce was placed under the severest restrictions, 
and in rnany ways it became clear that provinces were 
held and governed almost exclusively for the benefit 
of the crown. And so they remained, Europeans and 
Americans intermingling their loves and hates for 
three hundred vears, which was indeed Mexico's dark 
age, two civilizations being well nigh crushed therein, 
Light at last breaking in upon the people, the three 
centuries of viceregal rule were brought to a close by 
their taking a stand for independence, such as their 
Anglo-American neighbor had so recently achieved. 
And now during these latter days of swift progression 
Mexico is happily aroused from her lethargy, and is 
taking her proper place among the enlightened nations 
of the earth, to the heart-felt joy of all. 

The first of the five great periods of Mexican his- 
tory, embracing the aboriginal annals of An&huac, has 
been exhaustively treated in the fifth volume of my 
Native Races. The second is that of the conquest by 
Cortes ; the third covers nearly three centuries of vice- 
regal rule in New Spain ; the fourth comprises the strug- 
gle for independence and the founding of the republic; 


and the fifth extends thence to the present time, 
including as salient features a series of internal revo- 
lutions, the war with the United States, the imperial 
experiment of Maximilian, and the peaceful develop- 
ment of national industries and .power in recent years. 
It is my purpose to present on a national scale, and 
in a space symmetrically proportioned to the impor- 
tance of each, the record of the four successive periods. 
The conquest of Mexico, filling the present and 
part of another volume, has been treated by many 
writers, and in a masterly manner. In the three 
periods of Mexican history following the conquest 
there is no comprehensive work extant in Eng- 
lish; nor is there any such work in Spanish that 
if translated would prove entirely satisfactory to 
English readers. Of the few Spanish and Mexican 
writers whose researches have extended over the 
whole field, or large portions of it, none have been 
conspicuously successful in freeing themselves from 
the quicksands of race prejudice, of religious feeling, 
of patriotic impulse, of political partisanship; none 
have had a satisfactory command of existing author- 
ities; none in the matter of space have made a sym- 
metrical division of the periods, or have appreciated 
the relative importance of different topics as they 
appear to any but Spanish eyes. Yet there has been 
no lack among these writers of careful investigation 
or brilliant diction. Indeed there is hardly an epoch 
that has not been ably treated from various partisan 

The list of authorities prefixed to this volume 
shows approximately my resources for writing a 
History of Mexico. I may add that no part of my 

viii PREFACE. 

collection is more satisfactorily complete than that 
pertaining to Mexico. I have all the standard his- 
tories and printed chronicles of the earliest times, 
together with all the works of writers who have ex- 
tended their investigations to the events and develop- 
ments of later years. On the shelves of my Library 
are found the various Colecciones cle Documentos, filled 
with precious historical papers from the Spanish and 
Mexican archives, all that were consulted in manu- 
script by Robertson, Prescott, and other able writers, 
with thousands equally important that were unknown 
to them. My store of manuscript material is rich 
both in originals and copies, including the treasures 
secured during a long experience by such collectors 
as Jose Maria Andrade and Jose Fernando Ramirez; 
a copy of the famous Archive General de Mexico, in 
thirty-two volumes ; the autograph originals of Carlos 
Maria Bustain ante's historical writings, in about fifty 
volumes, containing much not found in his printed 
works; the original records of the earliest Mexican 
councils of the church, with many ecclesiastical and 
missionary chronicles not extant in print; and finally 
a large amount of copied material on special topics 
drawn from different archives expressly for my work. 
Documents printed by the Mexican government, 
including the regular memorias and other reports of 
different departments and officials, constitute a most 
valuable source of information. Partisan writings 
and political pamphlets are a noticeable feature of 
Mexican historical literature, indispensable to the his- 
torian who would study both sides of every question. 
Prominent Mexicans have formed collections of such 
works, a dozen of which I have united in one, making 
two hundred and eighteen volumes of Papeles Varios, 


some five thousand pamphlets, besides nearly as many 
more collected by my own efforts. The newspapers 
of a country cannot be disregarded, and my collection 
is not deficient in this class of data, being particularly 
rich in official periodicals. 

The conquest of Mexico, which begins this history, 
has the peculiar attractions of forming the grandest 
episode in early American annals from a military 
point of view, and in opening to the world the 
richest, most populous, and most civilized country 
on the northern continent, and of gradually in- 
corporating it in the sisterhood of nations as the 
foremost representative of Latin -American states. 
On the other hand, an episode which presents but a 
continuation of the bloody path which marked the 
advance of the conquerors in America, and which 
involved the destruction not only of thousands of 
unoffending peoples but of a most fair and hopeful 
culture, is not in its results the most pleasing of pic- 
tures. But neither in this pit of Acheron nor in that 
garden of Hesperides may we expect to discover the 
full significance of omnipotent intention. From the 
perpetual snow- cap springs the imperceptibly moving 
glacier. A grain of sand gives no conception of the 
earth, nor a drop of water of the sea, nor the soft 
breathing of an infant of a hurricane; yet worlds are 
made of atoms, and seas of drops of water, and storms 
of angry air- breaths. Though modern Mexico can 
boast a century more of history than the northern 
nations of America, as compared with the illimitable 
future her past is but a point of time. 




1516-1517. PAGE. 

A Glance at the State of European Discovery and Government in America 
at the Opening of this Volume — Diego Velazquez in Cuba — Character 
of the Man — A Band of Adventurers Arrives from Darien — The Gov- 
ernor Counsels them to Embark in Slave-catching — Under Hernan- 
dez de Cordoba thay Sail Westward and Discover Yucatan — And are 
Filled with Astonishment at the Large Towns arid Stone Towers they 
See there — They Fight the Natives at Cape Catoche — Skirt the 
Peninsula to Champoton — Sanguinary Battle — Return to Cuba — 
Death of C6rdoba 1 




Velazquez Plans a New Expedition — Gives the Command to his Nephew, 
Juan de Grijalva — Who Embarks at Santiago and Strikes the Conti- 
nent at Cozumel Island — Coasts Southward to Ascension Bay — Then 
Turns and Doubles Cape Catoche — Naming of New Spain — Fight at 
Champoton — Arrival at Laguna de Terminos — Alaminos, the Pilot, 
is Satisfied that Yucatan is an Island — They Coast Westward and 
Discover the Rivers San Pedro y San Pablo and Tabasco — Notable 
Interview at this Place between the Europeans and the Americans — 
The Culhua Country — They Pass La Rambla, Tonala, the Rio Goaza- 
coalco, the Mountain of San Martin, the Rivers of Alvarado and 
Banderas, and Come to the Islands of Sacrificios and San Juan de 
Ulua 15 




Refusal of Grijalva to Settle — Alvarado Sent back to Cuba — Grijalva 
Continues his Discovery — After Reaching the Province of Panuco he 




Turns back — Touching at the Rio Goazacoalco, Tonala, the Laguna 
de Terminos, and Champoton, the Expedition Returns to Cuba — 
Grijalva Traduced and Discharged — A New Expedition Planned — 
Velazquez Sends to Santo Domingo and Spain — Characters of 
Velazquez and Grijalva Contrasted — Candidates fo? the Captaincy 
of the New Expedition — The Alcalde of Santiago Successful — His 
Standing at that Time 28 



Birthplace of Hernan Cortes — His Coming Compensatory for the Devil- 
sent Luther — Parentage — Hernan a Sickly Child — Saint Peter his 
Patron — He is sent to Salamanca — Returns Home — Thinks of C6r- 
doba and Italy — And of Ovando and the Indies — Chooses the Lat- 
ter — Narrow Escape during a Love Intrigue — Ovando Sails without 
Him — Cortes Goes to Valencia — Is there 111 — Returns Home — Finally 
Sails for the Indies — His Reception at Santo Domingo — He Fights 
Indians under Velazquez, and is Given an Encomienda — Goes to 
Cuba with Velazquez — Makes Love to Catalina Suarez — But Declines 
to Marry — Velazquez Insists — Cortes Rebels — Seizures, Imprison- 
ments, Escapes, and Reconciliation 41 



The Quality of Leader Desired — Instructions Issued to Hernan Cortes, 
Commander-in-chief — The Character of Cortes Undergoes a Change — 
Cost of the Expedition — By whom Borne — Places Established for En- 
listment — The Banner — Cortes Puts on the Great Man — More of his 
Character — The Scene at Santiago Harbor — The Governor's Jester — 
Dark Suspicions of Velazquez — Departure from Santiago — Cortes at 
Trinidad — Fresh Recruits — Verdugo Receives Orders to Depose Cor- 
tes — The Fleet Proceeds to San Cristobal, or the Habana — Review 
at Guaguanico — Speech of CortCs — Organization into Companies — 
Departure from Cuba 53 




Something of the Captains of Cortes — Alvarado — Montejo — Avila — Olid — 
Sandoval — Leon — Ordaz — Morla — The Passage — The Fleet Struck 
by a Squall — Arrival at Cozumel — Alvarado Censured — Search for 
the Captive Christians — Arrival of Aguilar — His Chaste Adventures — 
They Come to Tabasco River — Battles there — Conquest of the Na- 
tives — Peace Made — Twenty Female Slaves among the Presents — 
The Fleet Proceeds along the Shore — Puertocarrero's Witticism — 
Arrival at San Juan de Ulua 73 





Home of Mexican Civilization — The Border Land of Savagism — Con- 
figuration of the Country — The Nahuas and the Mayas — Toltecs, 
Chichimecs, and Aztecs — The Valley of Mexico — Civil Polity of the 
Aztecs — King Ahuitzotl — Montezuma Made Emperor — Character of 
the Man — His Career — The First Appearing of the Spaniards not 
Unknown to Montezuma — The Quetzalcoatl Myth — Departure of the 
Fair God— Signs and Omens concerning his Return — The Coming of 
the Spaniards Mistaken for the Fulfilment of the Prophecy — The 
Door Opened to the Invader 94 



April-May, 1519. 

The Embassy from the Shore — The New Interpreter — Marina — Her Ap- 
pearance and Quality — Her Romantic History — She Cleaves to the 
Spaniards and to Cortds — And Becomes One of the most Important 
Characters of the Conquest — The Spaniards Land and Form an En- 
campment — The Governor Comes with Presents — The Spaniards 
Astonish the Natives — Who Report all to Montezuma — Cortes Sends 
the Monarch Presents — Council Called in Mexico — Montezuma Deter- 
mines not to Receive the Strangers — Reciprocates in Presents a 
Hundredfold — Cort6s Persists — Montezuma Declines more Firmly — 
Olmedo Attempts Conversion — Teuhtlile, Offended, Withdraws his 
People from the Camp of the Spaniards 1 1G 



May, 1519. 

Serious Dilemma of Cortes — Authority without Law — Montejo Sent 
Northward — Recommends another Anchorage — Dissensions at Vera 
Cruz — Prompt and Shrewd Action of Cortes — A Municipality Organ- 
ized — Cortes Resigns — And is Chosen Leader by the Municipality — 
Velazquez' Captains Intimate Rebellion — Cortes promptly Arrests 
Several of Them — Then he Conciliates them All — Important Em- 
bassy from Cempoala — The Veil Lifted — The March to Cempoala — 
What was Done there — Quiahuiztlan — The Coming of the Tribute 
Gatherers — How They were Treated — Grand Alliance 131 



June-July, 1519. 
Cortes, Diplomate and General — The Municipality of Villa Rica Located — 
Excitement throughout Anahuac — Montezuma Demoralized — Arrival 



of the Released Collectors at the Mexican Capital — The Order for 
Troops Countermanded — Montezuma Sends an Embassy to Cortes — 
Chicomacatl Asks Aid against a Mexican Garrison — A Piece of 
Pleasantry — The Velazquez Men Refuse to Accompany the Expedi- 
tion — Opportunity Offered them to Return to Cuba, which they 
Decline through Shame — The Totonacs Rebuked — The Cempoala 
Brides — Destruction of the Idols — Arrival at Villa Rica of Salcedo — 
Efforts of Velazquez with the Emperor — Cortes Sends Messengers 
to Spain — Velazquez Orders them Pursued — The Letters of CortCs — 
Audiencia of the Emperor at Tordesillas 152 



July- August, 1519. 
Diego Velazquez once More — His Supporters in the Camp of Cortes — 
They Attempt Escape — Are Discovered — The Leaders are Seized and 
Executed — Cortes' Ride to Cempoala, and what Came of it — He De- 
termines on the Destruction of the Fleet — Preliminary Stratagems — 
Several of the Ships Pronounced Unseaworthy — The Matter before 
the Soldiers — The Fleet Sunk — Indignation of the Velazquez Fac- 
tion — One Vessel Remaining — It is Offered to any Wishing to Desert — 
It is finally Sunk — Francisco de Garay's Pretensions — Seizure of 
Some of his Men 174 



August-September, 1519. 

Enthusiasm of the Army — The Force — The Totonacs Advise the Tlascalan 
Route — Arrival at Jalapa — A Look Backward — The Anahuac Pla- 
teau — Meeting with Olintetl — Arrival in the Country of the Tlascal- 
tecs — The Senate Convenes and Receives the Envoys of Cortes — An 
Encounter — A More Serious Battle — Xicotencatl Resolves to Try the 
Prowess of the Invaders, and is Defeated 191 



September, 1519. 
Native Chiefs Sent as Envoys to the Tlascalan Capital — Their Favorable 
Reception — Xicotencatl Plans Resistance to Cortes — Sends out Spies — 
Cortes Sends them back Mutilated — The Spaniards Attack and 
Defeat Xicotencatl — Night Encounters — General Dissatisfaction and 
a Desire to Return to Villa Rica — Envoys Arrive from Montezuma — 
Cortes Receives Xicotencatl and the Tlascalan Lords — Peace Con- 
cluded — Tlascala — Festivities and Rejoicings — Mass Celebrated — 
Cortes Inclined to Extreme Religious Zeal — Brides Presented to the 
Spaniards — Appropriate Ceremonies — Preparing to Leave Tlascala 
for Cholula — Communications with the Cholultecs 211, 




October, 1519. page. 

Departure from Tlascala— Description of Cholula — The Welcome — Army 
Quarters in the City — Intimations of a Conspiracy between the Mexi- 
cans and Cholultecs — Cortes Asks for Provisions and Warriors — He 
Holds a Council — Preparations for an Attack — The Lords Enter the 
Court with the Required Supplies — Cortes Reprimands them in an 
Address — The Slaughter Begins — Destruction of the City — Butchery 
and Pillage — Amnesty finally Proclaimed — Xicotencatl Returns to 
Tlascala — Reconciliation of the Cholultecs and Tlascaltecs — Dedica- 
tion of a Temple to the Virgin — Reflections on the Massacre of 
Cholula 235 



October-November, 1519. 
Montezuma Consults the Gods — He again Begs the Strangers not to Come 
to him — Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl — News from Villa Rica — 
Death of Escalante — Return of the Cempoalan Allies — Again en 
route for Mexico — Reception at Huexotzinco — First View of the 
Mexican Valley — Exultations and Misgivings — Resting at Quauh- 
techcatl — The Counterfeit Montezuma — Munificent Presents — The 
Emperor Attempts to Annihilate the Army by Means of Sorceries — 
Through Quauhtechcatl, Amaquemecan, and Tlalmanalco — A Brill- 
iant Procession Heralds the Coming of Cacama, King of Tezcuco — 
At Cuitlahuac — Met by Ixtlilxochitl — The Hospitality of Izta- 
palapan 252 



November, 1519. 

Something of the City— The Spaniards Start from Iztapalapan — Reach the 
Great Causeway — They are Met by many Nobles — And Presently by 
Montezuma — Entry into Mexico — They are Quartered in the Axaya- 
catl Palace — Interchange of Visits 275 



November, 1519. 

Cortes Inspects the City — Visits the Temple with Montezuma — Discov- 
ery of Buried Treasure — Pretended Evidences of Treachery — Cortes 
Plans a Dark Deed — Preparations for the Seizure of Montezuma — 
With a Few Men Cortes Enters the Audience-chamber of the King — 
Persuasive Discourse — With Gentle Force Montezuma is Induced to 
Enter the Lion's Den 294 




1519-1520. PAGIV 

Hollow Homage to the Captive King — Montezuma has his Wives and 
Nobles — He Rules his Kingdom through the Spaniards — The Playful 
Page — Liberality of the Monarch — The Sacred Treasures — Cortes 
Resents the Insults of the Guard — Diversions — Quauhpopoca, his 
Son and Officers, Burned Alive — Plantations Formed — Villa Rica 
Affairs — Vessels Built — Pleasure Excursions 309 



Growing Discontent among the Mexicans — Cacama's Conspiracy — He 
Openly Defies both Montezuma and Cortes — The Council of Tepet- 
zinco — Seizure of Cacama — The Tezcucan Ruler Deposed — Cuicuitz- 
catl Elevated — Montezuma and his People Swear Fealty to the Spanish 
King — Gathering in the Tribute — Division of Spoils — The Spaniards 
Quarrel over their Gold — Uncontrollable Religious Zeal — Taking of 
the Temple — Wrath of the Mexicans 328 




The Mexicans Threaten Revolt — The Clergy in Arms — They Denounce 
the Conduct of Montezuma — The Emperor Declares he can no longer 
Restrain his People — Tidings of Velazquez' Fleet — Sailing from 
Cuba of an Expedition under Narvaez — Arrival in Mexico — Conflict 
with Cortes — Interchange of Threats and Courtesies — Attempted 
Union of Forces — Narvaez Remains Loyal to Velazquez — Desertion 
of Some of his Men to Cortes 353 



May, 1520. 
Dismal Prospects — Empire to Hold, Invasion to Repel — The Army Di- 
vides — Alvarado Guards Montezuma, while Cortes Looks after Xar- 
vaez — The March Seaward — The Rendezvous — The Chinantecs 
and their Pikes — Cortes Sows Alluring Words in the Camp of the 
Enemy — Proposals of Peace — Defiance — Night Attack — Cortes Cap- 
tures Narvaez and his Army 374 



May, 1520. 
After the Battle — Victory Made Secure — Conduct of the Conquered — A 
General Amnesty — Disposition of the Forces — Affairs at the Capital — 



Insurrection Threatened — The Spaniards Hold a Council — Alvarado's 
Resolve — The Great Day of the Feast — The Spaniards Proceed to the 
Temple — The Grand Display there Witnessed — The Attack of the 
Spaniards — Horrors upon Horrors 399 



May-June, 1520. 

Character of the Aztecs — Spanish Quarters — The City in Arms — Growing 
Hatred toward the Invaders — Perilous Position of Alvarado — Monte- 
zuma Called to Interfere — Failing Provisions — Miraculous Water — 
Cortes to the Rescue — Rendezvous at Tlascala — The City and its 
People — The Army Joins Alvarado — Desperate Encounters 419 



June, 1520. 

The Natives Continue the Assault — Their Fierce "Bravery — The Span- 
iards Build Turrets — Still the Mexicans Prove too Strong for Them — 
Montezuma Called to Intercede — He is Insulted and Stoned by his 
Subjects — Cortes Attempts Egress by the Tlacopan Causeway — ■ 
Failure of Escobar to Take the Pyramid — CortCs Gains the Slippery 
Height— The Gladiatorial Combat There 436 



June, 1520. 

A Living Death — The Old Imperial Party and the New Power — Aztec 
Defiance — Perilous Position of the Spaniards — Disappointment to 
Cort6s — Another Sally — The Dying Monarch — He has No Desire to 
Live — His Rejection of a New Faith — He will None of the Heaven 
of the Spaniards — Commends his Children to Cortes — The Character 
of Montezuma and of his Reign 449 



June 30, 1520. 

The Captive-King Drama Carried too Far — Better had the Spaniards 
Taken Montezuma's Advice, and have Departed while Opportunity 
Oilered — Diplomatic Value of a Dead Body — Necessity for an Im- 
mediate Evacuation of the City — Departure from the Fort — Mid- 
night Silence — The City Roused by a Woman's Cry — The Fugitives 

Fiercely Attacked on All Sides — More Horrors , 4G3 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. n 

xviii CONTENTS. 



July, 1520. 
Fatal Mistake of the Mexicans — A Brief Respite Allowed the Spaniards — 
The Remnant of the Army at Tlacopan — They Set out for Tlascala — 
An ever increasing Force at their Heels — Rest at the Tepzolac 
Temple — Cort6s Reviews his Disasters — The March Continued amidst 
Great Tribulation — Encounter of the Grand Army — Important Battle 
and Remarkable Victory — Arrival at Tlascala — The Friendly Recep- 
tion Accorded them There 482 



July-September, 1520. 
Divers Disasters to the Spaniards — Mexico Makes Overtures to Tlascala — ■ 
A Council Held — Tlascala Remains True to the Spaniards — Disaf- 
fection in the Spanish Army — Cortes again Wins the Soldiers to his 
Views — Renewal of Active Operations against the Aztecs — Success 
of the Spanish Arms — Large Reinforcements of Native Allies — One 
Aztec Stronghold after another Succumbs 509 



October-December, 1520. 

Conquest in Detail — Barba Caught — Other Arrivals and Reinforcements — 
The Small-pox Comes to the Assistance of the Spaniards — Letters to 
the Emperor — Establishing of Segura de la Frontera — Certain of the 
Disaffected Withdraw from the Army and Return to Cuba — Division 
of Spoils — Head-quarters Established at Tlascala 536 



December, 1520 — February, 1521. 

The Objective Point — Vessels Needed — Martin Lopez Sent to Tlascala 
for Timber — Thirteen Brigantines Ordered — Cortes at Tlascala — Drill 
and Discipline — Address of the General — Parade of the Tlascaltecs — 
March to Tezcuco — New Ruler Appointed — Sacking of Iztapalapan — 
The Chalcans — Arrival at Tezcuco of the Brigantine Brigade 561 



March-May, 1521. 
Plan for the Investment of Mexico — Reconnoitring Tour round the 
Lake — Cortes in Command — Alvarado and Olid Accompany — They 



Proceed Northward from Tezcuco — Capture of Cities and Strong- 
holds — Xaltocan, Quauhtitlan, Tenayocan, Azcapuzalco, Tlacopan, 
and back to Tezcuco — Chalco Disturbed — Peace Proposals Sent to 
Mexico — Further Reconnoissance of the Lake Region — Many Battles 
and Victories — Quauhnahuac Captured — Burning of Xochimilco — 
Second Return to Tezcuco — Conspiracy 582 



May-June, 1521. 

Phases of Heroism — The Brigantines upon the Lake — Division of Forces 
between Alvarado, Sandoval, and Olid — Desertion, Capture, and 
Execution of Xicotencatl — Departure of the Troops from Tezcuco — 
Naval Battle — Possession Taken of the Causeways — At One Point 
CortCs Unexpectedly Gains Entrance to the City — But is Driven Out 613 



June- July, 1521. 

Something about Quauhtemotzin — Infamous Pretensions of European 
Civilization and Christianity — Prompt Action of the Mexican Em- 
peror — Repetitions of the Entry Assault — Submission of the Sur- 
rounding Nations — Dire Condition of the Mexicans — Spanish Defeat ' 
and Disaffection — Resolution to Raze the City 636 



July- August, 1521. 
The Destroyers Advance — Fierce Fighting in the Plaza — Dismal Situation 
of the Mexicans — The Work of Demolition — Movements of Alva- 
rado — The Emperor Refuses to Parley — Misery of the Aztecs Un- 
bearable — Horrible Massacre of Women and Children — The Tender- 
hearted Corte"s Mourns over his own Work — Capture of the Em- 
peror — The Conquest Completed — Banquets and Thanksgivings — 
Dispersion of the Allies to their Homes — Reflections 669 




[It is my custom to prefix to each work of the series the name of every authority cited in its pages. 
In this instance, however, it is impracticable. So immense is my material for the History of Mexico 
that a full list of the authorities tvould fill a third of a volume, obviously more space than can properly 
be allowed even for so important a feature. I therefore reduce the list by omitting, for the most part % 
three large classes: first, those already given for Central America; second, those to be given in the 
North Mexican States; and third, many ivorhs, mostly pamphlets, which, though consulted and often 
important, have only an indirect bearing on history, or which have been cited perhaps but once, and on 
some special topic. These, and all bibliographic notes, are accessible through the index.'] 


Abbot (Gorham D.), Mexico and the United States. New York, 1869. - 

Abert (S. T. ), Is a ship canal practicable. Cincinnati, 1870. 

Abispa de Chilpancingo (La). Mexico, 1821-2. 

Abreu (Antonio Joseph Alvarez de), VictimaReal Legal. Madrid, 1769. folio. 

Abreu (Francisco), Verdad Manifiesta que declara ser la jurisdiccion ordinaria., n.d. 
Abusos del poder judicial en la Suprema Corte. Guadalajara, 1844. 
Academia de Derecho Espanol. Solemne Accion de Gracias al Congreso. 15 

de Marzo de 1813. [Mexico], 1814. 
Academia Nacional de San Carlos de Mexico. Catalogo de los objetos. 

Mexico, 1850; Setima Esposicion. Mexico, 1855. 
Acapulco, Exposicion de la Junta del camino de. Mexico, 1845. 
Acapulco, Provision para tripulantes de los galeones y para guarnicion. MS. 

1766-8. folio. 
Accion de Gracias que Tributa el Clero y Pueblo Mexicano al Todopoderoso 

por el Triunfo de la Religion. Mexico, 1834. 
Aciopari (Jos6 Querien), Ratos desgraciados. Mexico, 1819. MS. 
Acta Capituli Provincialis celebrati in hoc Imperiali S. P. N. Dominici 

Mexiceo Ccenobio. Mexico, 1808 et seq. 
Acusacion contra El Sr. Gobr. Don Jose" Gomez de la Cortina. Mexico, 1836. 
Acusacionque hacen el Soberano Congreso muchos Profesores. Mexico, 1836. 
Adalid (Ignacio), Causa formada contra. Mexico, 1815. MS. 3 vols. 
Adamdicosio y Canto (Perez Jose" Maria Alejo), El Jacobinismo de Mexico. 

Mexico, 1833. MS. 
Adams (John Quincy), Discurso del Ex-Presidente. Mejico, 1836. 
Adams (W.), Actual state of the Mexican Mines. London, 1825. 
Addey (Markinfield), Geo. Brinton McClellan. New York, 1864. 
Adorno (Juan Nepomuceno), Analisis de los males de Mexico. Mexico, 1858. 
Adorno (Juan N.), Memoria acerca de la Hidrografia Mcteorologia. Mexico, 


( xxi ) 


Afectos de un Moribundo Arrepentido. MS. 

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Mexico, Description of the Republic. Philadelphia, 1846. 
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Mexico, Diario de las Sesiones de la Junta Provisional Gubernativa del Im- 

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Mexico, Diario del Imperio. Mexico, 1805 et seq. 
Mexico, Diario Oficial. Mexico, 1870 et seq. 
Mexico, Dictamen (Several hundred reports of Committees of State and 

National Governments cited by date and topic). 
Mexico, Die Auswanderung nach Mexico, etc. Leipzig, n.d. 
Mexico, Diferencias entre Franciscanos y Curas Parrocos. MS. 
Mexico, Direccion General de la Industria Nacional. MS. 
Mexico, Discurso pronunciado ante el Congreso General por Jose Herrera. 

Mexico, 1845. 
Mexico, Discurso pronunciado por el Presidente 1° de Enero de 1852. Mexico, 

Mexico, Discurso pronunciado por el Presidente 15 de Oct. de 1852. Mexico, 

Mexico, Disposiciones legales y otros documentos relativos a prohibicion de 

Impresos. Mexico, .1850. 
Mexico, Documentos Eclesiasticos. MS. folio. 5 vols. 
Mexico, Documentos importantes tornados del Espediente instruido. Mexico, 

Mexico, Documentos impresos por acuerdo del Supremo Poder. Mexico, 1840. 
Mexico, Documentos justificativos sobre la inversion de los f ondos pedidos a la 

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Mexico, Documentos que publica la Direccion de Colonizacion 6 Industria. 

Mexico, 1848. 
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Mexico, Documentos relativos a la apertura de comunicacion de Tehuantepec. 

Mexico, 1852. 
Mexico, Documentos relativos a las iiltimas ocurrencias de Nueva Espafia. 

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Mexico, Documentos relativos al decreto sobre provision de las magistraturas 

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Mexico, Draft for a Convention. Washington, 1861. 
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Mexico, Edicto del Presidente y cabildo Mctropolitano Gobernador del Arzo- 

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Mexico, Edicto sobre pago de Primicias. MS. 

Mexico, El Alcalde primero del Ayuntamicnto publica la manifestacicn que 

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Mexico, El Congreso de 1842. Morelia, 1842. 
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Mexico, 1814. 
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Mexico, Escudo de Armas. In Figueroa, Vindicias. MS. 
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Mexico, Exposicion (Several hundred by various commissions and individuals 

on different topics). 
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Mexico, Extractos de Cedulas en los archivos de la Ciudad. MS. folio. 
Mexico fiel y valiente en el crisol que la pusieron los insurgentes. Mexico, 

Mexico, Forcible abduction of a citizen of the U. S. Washington, 1851. 
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Mexico, Gaceta del Gobierno Supremo. Mexico, 1826 et seq. 
Mexico, Hacienda, 1845-52. A Collection. 6 vols. 
Mexico, Historia de la Revolucion de Mexico contra la Dictadura del General 

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Mexico, Important official Documents,, n.d. 
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Mexico, Iniciativa del Gobierno para la demarcacion de la linea de Comercio 

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Mexico, Iniciativa que la Exma Junta Departamental hace al Congreso 

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Mexico, Instruccion de los comisionados de la Direccion General. Mexico, 

Mexico, Instruccion del Rey. In Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, torn. xii. 
Mexico, Instruccion para la practica de los padrones que se han de formar. 

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Mexico, Manifestacion de las actas de las discusiones, etc. Tlalpam, 1829. 
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Mexico, Manifestacion que la Exma Junta Departmental de Mexico. Mexico, 

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Mexico, Manifiesto del Supremo Tribunal de Guerra., n.d. 
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Mexico, Memoria de Plumages. In Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, torn. xii. 
Mexico, Memorias (Regular Reports of the different government departments ; 

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Mexico, Memorandum de los Negocios Pendientes entre Mexico y Espafia. 

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Mexico, Noticia Historica delos Cuerpos de Caballeria. Mexico, 1840. 
Mexico, Noticias de la ciudad. Mexico, 1855. 
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Mexico, Observaciones que hace el cjecutivo al Proyecto de Arancel de Adua- 

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Mexico, Ordenanza general de Aduanas Maritimas y fronterizas. Mexico, 1856. 
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Mexico, Papeles Varios. A Collection. 
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Mexico, llazon de los pr6stamos que ha negociado el Supremo Gobierno 

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Mexico, Reflexiones sobre el acuerdo del Senado, adopcion del sistema de par- 
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Mexico, Reglamento de Aduanas Maritimas. Mexico, 1829. 4to. 

Mexico, Reglamento de la casa de Moneda. Tlalpan, 1827. 

Mexico, Reglamento do la Direccion de Colonizacion. Mexico, 1846. 

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Mexico, Reglamento interino y Provisional para la Comisaria Central de Guer- 
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Mexico, Reglamento para el corso de particulares en la presente guerra. Mex- 
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Mexico, Reglamento para el establecimiento de las colonias militares del 
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Mexico, Reglamento para el gobierno interior del Congreso General. Mexico, 

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Mexico, Reglamento para el Gobierno interior de los tribunales superiores. 
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Mexico, Reglamento para el gobierno interior y economico de la Secretaria de 
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Mexico, Reglamento para el Supremo Tribunal de Justicia del Estado. Mex- 
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Mexico, Reglamento para la administracion y contabilidad. Mexico, 1867. 

Mexico, Reglamento para la Comunicacion por la via Inter-Oceunica de Te- 
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•Mexico, Reglamento para la Guardia Nacional. Mexico, 1846. 

Mexico, Reglamento para la seccion superior de los distritos de Hacienda. 
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Mexico, Reglamento para la Tesoreria general. Mejico, 1831. 4to. 

Mexico, Reglamento para los Servicios de Honor y ceremonial de la Corte. 
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Mexico, Reglamento Provisional para las funciones y servicio del Estado 
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Mexico, Reglamento que han de obscrvar el juez, el administrador Tesorero, 
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Mexico, Reglamento y Arancel de Corredores para la plaza de Mexico. 
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Mexico, Reports and Dispatches exhibiting operations of the U. S. Naval 

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Mexico, Representacion dirigida a la camara de Diputados por el Supremo 

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M Longitude 







A Glance at the State of European Discovery and Government in 
America at the Opening of this Volume — Diego Velazquez in 
Cuba — Character of the Man — A Band of Adventurers Arrives 
from Darien — The Governor Counsels them to Embark in Slave- 
Catching — Under Hernandez de Cordoba they Sail Westward and 
Discover Yucatan — And are Filled with Astonishment at the 
Large Towns and Stone Towers they See there — They Fight the 
Natives at Cape Catoche — Skirt the Peninsula to Champoton — 
Sanguinary Battle — Return to Cuba — Death of C6rdoba. 

During the first quarter of a century after the 
landing of Columbus on San Salvador, three thou- 
sand leagues of mainland coast were examined, chiefly 
in the hope of finding a passage through to the India 
of Marco Polo. The Cabots from England and 
the Cortereals from Portugal made voyages to New- 
foundland and down the east coast of North Amer- 
ica; Amerigo Vespucci sailed hither and thither in 
the service of Spain, and wrote letters confounding 
knowledge; Vasco da Gama doubled the Cape of 
Good Hope; Columbus, Ojeda, Nino, Guerra, Bas- 
tidas, and Pinzon and Solis coasted the Tierra Firme 
of Central and South America; Ocampo skirted 
Cuba and found it an island; Cabral accidentally 
discovered Brazil; Juan Ponce de Leon hunted for 
the Fountain of Youth in Florida; Vasco Nunez de 

Vol. I. 1 

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Balboa crossed the Isthmus and floated his ships on 
the South Sea. Prior to 1517 almost every province 
of the eastern continental seaboard, from Labrador 
to Patagonia, had been uncovered, save those of the 
Mexican Gulf, which casketed wonders greater than 
them all. This little niche alone remained wrapped 
in aboriginal obscurity, although less than forty 
leagues of strait separated the proximate points of 
Cuba and Yucatan. 

Meanwhile, in the government of these Western 
Indies, Columbus, first admiral of the Ocean Sea, 
had been succeeded by Bobadilla, Ovando, and the 
son and heir of the discoverer, Diego Colon, each 
managing, wherein it was possible, worse than his 
predecessor; so that it was found necessary to estab- 
lish at Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Indies, 
a sovereign tribunal, to which appeals might be made 
from any viceroy, governor, or other representative 
of royalty, and which should eventually, as a royal 
audiencia, exercise for a time executive as well as ju- 
dicial supremacy. But before clothing this tribunal 
with full administrative powers, Cardinal Jimenez, 
then dominant in New World affairs, had deter- 
mined to try upon the turbulent colonists the effect 
of ecclesiastical influence in secular matters, and had 
sent over three friars of the order of St Jerome, 
Luis de Figueroa, Alonso de Santo Domingo, and 
Bernardo de Manzanedo, to whose direction gov- 
ernors and all others were made subject. Just be- 
fore the period in our history at which this volume 
opens, the Jeronimite Fathers, as the three friars 
were called, had practically superseded Diego Colon 
at Espanola, and were supervising Pedrarias Davila 
of Castilla del Oro, Francisco de Garay governor 
of Jamaica, and Diego Velazquez governor of Cuba. 
It will be remembered that Die^o Colon had sent 
Juan de Esquivel in 1509 to Jamaica, where he was 
succeeded by Francisco de Garay; and Diego Velaz- 
quez had been sent in 1511 to Cuba to subdue and 


govern that isle, subject to the young admiral's dic- 
tation; and beside these, a small establishment at 
Puerto Rico, and Pedrarias on the Isthmus, there 
was no European ruler in the regions, islands or firm 
land, between the two main continents of America. 

The administration of the religiosos showed little 
improvement on the governments of their predeces- 
sors, who, while professing less honesty and piety, 
practised more worldly wisdom; hence within two 
short years the friars were recalled by Fonseca, who, 
on the death of Jimenez, had again come into power 
in Spain, and the administration of affairs in the 
Indies remained wholly with the audiencia of Santo 
Domingo, the heirs of Columbus continuing to agi- 
tate their claim throughout the century. 

It was as the lieutenant of Diego Colon that Ve- 
lazquez had been sent to conquer Cuba; but that 
easy work accomplished, he repudiated his former 
master, and reported directly to the crown. 

Velazquez was an hidalgo, native of Cuellar, 
who, after seventeen years of service in the wars 
of Spain, had come over with the old admiral in his 
second voyage, in 1493, and was now a man of 
age, experience, and wealth. With a commanding 
figure, spacious forehead, fair complexion, large clear 
eyes, well-chiselled nose and mouth, and a narrow 
full-bearded chin, the whole lighted by a pleasing 
intellectual expression, he presented, when elegantly 
attired as was his custom, as imposing a presence as 
any man in all the Indies. In history he also formed 
quite a figure. And yet there was nothing weighty 
in his character. He was remarkable rather for the 
absence of positive qualities; he could not lay claim 
even to conspicuous cruelty. He was not a bad man 
as times went; assuredly he was not a good man as 
times go. He could justly lay claim to all the cur- 
rent vices, but none of them were enormous enough 
to be interesting. In temper he was naturally mild 


and affable, yet suspicious and jealous, and withal 
easily influenced; so that when roused to anger, as 
was frequently the case, he w T as beside himself. 

Chief assistant in his new pacification was Pan- 
filo de Narvaez, who brought from Jamaica thirty 
archers, and engaged in the customary butchering, 
while the governor, with three hundred men, quietly 
proceeded to found towns and settlements, such as 
Trinidad, Puerto del Principe, Matanzas, Santi Es- 
piritu, San Salvador, Habana, and Santiago, making 
the seat of his government at the place last named, 
and appointing alcaldes in the several settlements. 
Other notable characters were likewise in attendance 
on this occasion, namely, Bartolome de las Casas, 
Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, Juan de Grijalva, 
and Hernan Cortes. 

Discreet in his business, and burdened by no coun- 
teracting scruples, Velazquez and those who were 
with him prospered. Informed of this, above one 
hundred of the starving colonists at Darien obtained 
permission from Pedrarias in 1516 to pass over to 
Cuba, and were affably received by the governor. 
Most of them were well-born and possessed of means ; 
for though provisions were scarce at Antigua, the 
South Sea expeditions of Vasco Nunez, Badajoz, and 
Espinosa, had made gold plentiful there. Among this 
company was Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a soldier of 
fortune, who had come from Spain to Tierra Firme 
in 1514, and who now engages in the several expedi- 
tions to Mexico, and becomes, some years later, one 
of the chief historians of the conquest.' 

Ready for any exploit, and having failed to receive 
certain repartimientos promised them, the band from 
Tierra Firme cast glances toward the unknown west. 
The lesser isles had been almost depopulated b}^ the 
slave-catchers, and from the shores of the adjoining 
mainland the affrighted natives had fled to the inte- 
rior. It was still a profitable employment, however, 
for the colonists must have laborers, being themselves 


entirely opposed to work. The governor of Cuba, 
particularly, was fond of the traffic, for it was safe 
and lucrative. Though a representative of royal au- 
thority in America, he was as ready as any irrespon- 
sible adventurer to break the royal command. During 
this same year of 1516, a vessel from Santiago had 
loaded with natives and provisions at the Guanaja 
Islands, and had returned to port. While the captain 
and crew were ashore for a carouse, the captives burst 
open the hatches, overpowered the nine men who had 
been left on guard, and sailed away midst the frantic 
gesticulations of the captain on shore. Reaching 
their islands in safety, they there encountered a 
brigantine with twenty-five Spaniards tying in wait 
for captives. Attacking them boldly, the savages 
drove them off toward Darien, and then burned the 
ship in which they themselves had made their en- 
forced voyage to Cuba. 

As a matter of course this atrocious conduct on the 
part of the savages demanded exemplary punishment. 
To this end two vessels were immediately despatched 
with soldiers who fell upon the inhabitants of Guanaja, 
put many to the sword, and carried away five hundred 
captives, beside securing gold to the value of twenty 
thousand pesos de oro. 

Happy in the thought of engaging in an occupa- 
tion so profitable, the chivalrous one hundred cheer- 
fully adventured their Darien gold in a similar 
voyage, fitting out two vessels for the purpose, and 
choosing for their commander Francisco Hernandez 
de Cordoba, now a wealthy planter of Santi Espiritu. 1 

1 In the memorial of Antonio Velazquez, successor of the adelantado, Diego 
Velazquez, Memorial del netjocio de D . Antonio Velazquez de Bazan, in Mendoza, 
Col. Doc. Ined., x. 80-6, taken from the archives of the Indies, the credit of 
this expedition is claimed wholly for the governor. Indeed, Velazquez him- 
self repeatedly asserts, as well as others, that the expedition was made at his 
cost. But knowing the man as we do, and considering the claims of others, 
it is safe enough to say that the governor did not invest much money in it. 
The burden doubtless fell on Cordoba, who was aided, as some think, by his 
associates, Cristobal Morante and Lope Ochoa de Caicedo, in making up what 
the men of Darien lacked, Torquemada, i. 349, notwithstanding the claims 
for his fraternity of Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., i. Ogilby, Hist. Am., 76, 


Velazquez added a third vessel, a small bark, in con- 
sideration of a share in the speculation. 2 After lay- 
ing in a supply of cassava, a bread made from the 
3^ucca root, and some salt beef, bacon, and glass beads 
for barter, the expedition departed from Santiago de 
Cuba, and went round to the north side of the island. 
There were in all one hundred and ten 3 soldiers, with 
Antonio de Alaminos as chief pilot, Alonso Gonza- 
lez priest, and Bernardino Iniguez king's treasurer. 
Here the chief pilot said to the commander, "Down 
from Cuba Island, in this sea of the west, my heart 
tells me there must be rich lands; because, when I 

says the three associates were all Cuban planters ; that they equipped three 
ships, Velazquez adding one. This Hernandez de Cordoba was not he who 
served as lieutenant under Pedrarias, though of the same name. 

2 Opinion has been divided as to the original purpose of the expedition. 
As it turned out, it was thought best on all sides to say nothing of the in- 
human and unlawful intention of capturing Indians for slaves. Hence, in the 
public documents, particularly in the petitions for recompense which invaria- 
bly followed discoveries, pains is taken to state that it was a voyage of dis- 
covery, and prompted by the governor of Cuba. As in the Dccadas Abveviadas 
de los Descubrlmlenlos, Meudoza, Col. Doc. hied., viii. 5-54, we find that 'El 
adelantado Diego Velazquez de Cuellar es autor del descubrimiento de la 
Nueva Esparia,' so, in effect, it is recorded everywhere. Indeed, Bernal Diaz 
solemnly asserts that Velazquez at first stipulated that he should have three 
cargoes of slaves from the Guanaja Islands, and that the virtuous one hun- 
dred indignantly refused so to disobey God and the king as to turn free peo- 
ple into slaves. ' Y desque vimos los soldados, que aquello que pedia el Diego 
Velazquez no era justo, le respondimos, que lo que dezia, no lo mandaua Dios, 
ni el Rey; que hiziessemos a los libres esclavos. ' Hist. Verdad., i. On the 
strength of which fiction, Zamacois, Hist. Mej., ii. 224, launches into lauda- 
tion of the Spanish character. The honest soldier, however, finds difficulty in 
making the world believe his statement. Las Casas, Hist. hid. , iv. 348, does 
not hesitate to say very plainly that the expedition was sent out to capture In- 
dians, ' ir e enviar a saltear indios para traer a ella,' for which purpose there 
were always men with money ready; and that on this occasion Cordoba, Mo- 
rante, and Caicedo subscribed 1 ,500 or 2,000 castellanos each, to go and catch In- 
dians, either at the Lucayas Islands or elsewhere. Torquemada, i. 349, writes 
more mildly, yet plainly enough ; ' para ir a buscar Indios, a las Islas Con- 
vecinas, y hacer Rescates, como hasta entonces lo acostumbraban. ' Cogolludo, 
Hist. Yu'-athan, 1-6, follows Bernal Diaz almost literally. Gomara, Hist, hid., 
60, is non-committal, stating first 'para descubrir y rescatar,' and afterward, 
' Otros dizen que para traer esclauos delas yslas Guanaxos a sus minas y gran- 
jerias.' Oviedo and Herrera pass by the question. Lancia, Bel. de Yucatan, 
16, 'a rescatar esclavos para las minas, que ya en Cuba se yva la gente apo- 
cando y que otros dizen que salio a descubrir tierra. ' Says the unknown author 
of De Rebus Gestls Ferdinandi Cortesli, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 338, 'In 
has igitur insulas ad grassandum et prsedandum, ut ita dicam, ire hi de quibus 
supra dictum est, constituerant; non in Iucatanam. ' It is clear to my mind 
that slaves were the first object, and that discovery was secondary, and an 

3 Bernal Diaz holds persistently to 110. It was 110 who came from Tierra 
Firme, and after divers recruits and additions the number was still 110. 


sailed as a boy with the old admiral, I remember he 
inclined this way." Suddenly the vision of Cordoba 
enlarged. Here might be something better, nobler, 
more profitable even than kidnapping the poor na- 
tives. Despatching a messenger to Velazquez, Cor- 
doba asked, in case new discoveries were made while 
on the way to catch Indians, for permission to act 
as the governor's lieutenant in such lands. The de- 
sired authority was granted, and from the haciendas 
near by were brought on board sheep, pigs, and 
mares, so that stock-raising might begin if settle- 
ments were formed. 

Sailing from the Habana, or San Cristobal, the 8th 
of February, 1517, they came to Cape San Antonio, 
whence, on the 12th, they struck westward, and after 
certain days, 4 during two of which they were severely 
tempest-tossed, they discovered land; 5 first the point 
of an island, where were some fine salt-fields, and cul- 
tivated ground. The people who appeared on the 
shore were not naked as on the Islands, but well 
dressed in white and colored cotton, some with orna- 
ments of gold, silver, and feathers. The men were 

* Authorities vary, from four days given by Las Casas, and six by Oviedo, 
to 21 by Bernal Diaz and Herrera. The date of departure is also disputed, 
but the differences are unimportant. Compare Peter Martyr, dec. iv. cap. 
vi. ; Dufey, Resume Hist. Am. , i. 93 ; Clavigero, Storia Mess. , iii. 3 ; Las Casas, 
Hist. Ind., iv. 348-63; Coyolludo, Hist. Yueathan, 3-8; Gomara, Hist. Ind., 
60-1; Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 1-2; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ii. cap. xvii. ; 
Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 22-4; Vida de Cortes, or He Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cor- 
tessii, in Fcazbalceta, Col. Doc., i. 331-41; March y Labores, Marina Espafiola, 
i. 463-8; Robertson's Hist. Am., i. 237-40; Fancourt's Hist. Yuc, 5-8. 

5 Though remarkably fair and judicious in the main, Mr Prescott's parti- 
ality for a certain class of his material is evident. To the copies from the 
Spanish archives, most of which have been since published with hundreds of 
others equally or more valuable, he seemed to attach an importance propor- 
tionate to their cost. Thus, throughout his entire work, these papers are 
paraded to the exclusion of the more reliable, but more accessible, standard 
authorities. In the attempt, at this point, to follow at once his document 
and the plainly current facts, he falls into an error of which he appears uncon- 
scious. He states, Conq. Mex., i. 222, that Cordoba 'sailed with three vessels 
on an expedition to one of the neighboring Bahama Islands, in quest of Indian 
slaves. He encountered a succession of heavy gales which drove him far out 
of his course.' The Bahama Islands are eastward from Habana, while Cape 
San Antonio is toward the west. All the authorities agree that the expedition 
sailed directly westward, and that the storm did not occur until after Cape 
San Antonio had been passed, which leaves Mr Prescott among other eirors 
in that of driving a fleet to the westward, in a storm, when it has already 
sailed thither by the will of its commander, in fair weather. 


bold and brave, and the women well-formed and mod- 
est, with head and breast covered. Most wonderful 
of all, however, were some great towers, built of 
stone and lime, with steps leading to the top; and 
chapels covered with wood and straw, within which 
were found arranged, in artistic order, many idols 
apparently representing women, and that led the 
Spaniards to name the place De Las Mugeres. 6 Pro- 
ceeding northward, they came to a larger point, of 
island or mainland; and presently they descried, two 
leagues from the shore, a large town, which was 
called El Gran Cairo. 

While looking for an anchorage, on the morning of 
the 4th of March, five canoes approached the com- 
mander's vessel, and thirty men stepped fearlessly on 
board. The canoes were large, some of them capable 
of holding fifty persons ; the men were intelligent, and 
wore a sleeveless cloak and apron of cotton. 7 The 
Spaniards gave them bacon and bread to eat, and to 
each a necklace of green glass beads. After closely 
scrutinizing the ship and its belongings, the natives put 
off for the shore. Early next day appeared the cacique 
with many men in twelve canoes, making signs of 
friendship, and crying, Conex cotoch! that is to say, 
Come to our houses; whence the place was called 
Punta de Catoche, 8 which name it bears to-day. 

6 Following Gomara and Torquemada, Galvano mentions the name of no 
other place in this voyage than that of Punta de las Dueiias, which he places in 
latitude 20°. He further remarks, Descobrimentos, 131, ' He gete milhor atau- 
iada que ha em neuhua outra terra, & cruzes em q' os Indios adorauam, & os 
punham sobre seus defuntos quando faleciam, donde parecia que em algum tepo 
se sentio aly a fe de Christo.' The anonymous author of De Rebus Oestis and 
all the best authorities recognize this as the first discovery. ' Sicque non ad 
Guanaxos, quos petebant, appulerunt, sed ad Mulierum promontorium. ' Fer- 
nando Colon places on his map, 1527, y: de rmijeres; Diego de Ribero, 1529, 
d' miujeres, the next name north being amazonas. Vaz Dourado, 1571, lays 
down three islands which he calls p:. de magreles; Hood, 1592, Y. de mueresj 
Laet, 1633, F as de rnucheres; Ogilby, 1G71, y as desconocida; Dampier, 1699, 
/. miir/eras; Jefferys, 1776, I a de Mujeres, or Woman's I. It was this name 
that led certain of the chroniclers to speak of islands off the coast of Yucatan 
inhabited by Amazons. ' Sirvio de asilo en nuestros dias al celebre pirata 
Lafitte.' Boletin de la Sociedad Mex. de Geog., iii. 224. 

7 For a description of these people see Bancroft 's Native Races, i. 645-747. 

8 See Lauda, Rel. deYuc, 6. ' Domum Cotoche sonat: indicabant enim 
domus ct oppidum haud longe abesse.' De Rebus Gestls Ferdinandi Cortesii, in 


Thus invited, Cordoba, with several of his officers, 
and twenty-five soldiers armed with cross-bows and 
firelocks, accompanied the natives to the shore, where 
the cacique with earnest invitations to visit his town 
managed to lead them into ambush. The natives 
fought with flint-edged wooden swords, lances, bows, 
and slings, and were protected by armors of quilted 
cotton and shields, their faces being painted and their 
heads plumed. They charged the enemy bravely, 
amidst shouts and noise of instruments; several of 
the Spaniards were wounded, two fatally. At length 
the natives gave way before the sharp and sulphurous 
enginery of their exceedingly strange visitants, leav- 
ing fifteen of their number dead upon the ground. 
Two youths were taken prisoners, who were after- 
ward baptized and named Julian and Melchor, and 
profitably employed by the Spaniards as interpret- 
ers. Near the battle-ground stood three more of 
those curious stone temples, one of which was en- 
tered by Father Gonzalez during the fight, and the 
earthen and wooden idols and ornaments and plates 
of inferior gold found there were carried away to the 

Embarking, and proceeding westward, the Span- 
iards arrived a fortnight later at Campeche, 9 where 
their amazement was increased on beholding the 
number and beauty of the edifices, while the blood 

IcazbcUceta, Col. Doc., i. 339. ' Conez cotoche, q quiere dezir, Andad aca a mia 
casas.'. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ii. cap. xvii. ' Cotohe, cotohe,' that is to say, 
'a house.' Fancourtfs Hist. Yuc, 6. 'Cotoche, q quiere dezir casa. ' Gomara, 
Hist. J r/d., Gi. ' Con escotoch, con escotoch, y quiere dezir, andad aca a mis 
casas.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 2. This, the north-eastern point of Yuca- 
tan, is on Fernando Colon's map, 1527, gotoche; on the map of Diego de Ribero, 
1529, p: d'cotoche; Vaz Dourado, 1571, C:. de quoteche; Pilestrina, c:. de sam- 
pcdq. Hood places a little west of the cape a bay, B. de conil; the next name 
west is Atalaia. Goldschmidi's Cariog. Pac. Coast, MS., i. 358. Kohl, Beiden 
aU( stem, karten, 103, brings the expedition here the 1st of March. Las Casas, 
Hist. Ind., iv. 350, confounds Cordoba's and Grijalva's voyages in this respect, 
that brings the former at once to Cozumel, when, as a matter of fact, Cordoba 
never saw that island. 

<J So called by the natives, but by the Spaniards named San L&zaro, be- 
cause ' it was a Domingo de Lazaro ' when they landed. Yet Ribero writes 
chapa, while Vaz Dourado employs llazaro, and Hood, Campechy; Laet gives 
the name correctly; Ogilby and Jefferys call the place 8. Fr co de Campeche. 
'Los Indios le dezio Quimpech.' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ii. cap. xvii. 


and other evidences of human sacrifice discovered 
about the altars of the temples filled their souls with 
horror. And as they were viewing these monu- 
ments of a superior culture, the troops of armed 
natives increased, and the priests of the temples, 
producing a bundle of reeds, set fire to it, signify- 
ing to the visitors that unless they took their de- 
parture before the reeds were consumed every one of 
them would be killed. Remembering their wounds 
at Catoche, the Spaniards took the hint and de- 

They were soon caught in a storm and severely 
shaken; after which they began to look about for 
water, which had by this time become as precious to 
them as the Tyrian mures tincture, of which each 
shell-fish gave but a single drop. They accordingly 
came to anchor near a village called Potonchan, but 
owing to a sanguinary battle in which they were 
driven back, Cordoba named the place Bahia de Mala 
Pelea. 10 In this engagement the natives did not 
shrink from fighting hand to hand with the foe. 
Fifty-seven Spaniards were killed on the spot, two 
were carried off alive, and five died subsequently on 
shipboard. Those whom the natives could not kill 
they followed to the shore, in their disappointed 
rage, wading out into the sea after them, like the 
bloodthirsty Cyclops who pursued the Trojan ^Eneas 
and his crew. But one man escaped unharmed, and 
he of all the rest was selected for slaughter by the 
natives of Florida. Cordoba received twelve wounds; 
Bernal Diaz three. The survivors underwent much 
suffering before reaching Cuba, for the continued 

10 Now Champoton, applied to river and town. Ribero writes camro; 
Hood, Champoto; Mercator, Chapdton, and town next north, Maranga. Po- 
tonchan, in the aboriginal tongue, signifies, 'Stinking Place.' Mercator has 
also the town of Potochan, west of Tabasco River. West-Indisclte Spieghel, 
Patocham. Laet, Ogilby, and Jefferys follow with Champoton in the usual 
variations. 'Y llegaron a otra provincia,' says Oviedo, i. 498, 'que los indios 
Hainan Aguanil, y el principal pueblo della se dice Moscoba, y el rey 6 cacique 
de aquel senorio se llama Chiapoton ; ' and thus the author of De Rebus GesHs 
Ferdinandi Cortesii, 'Nee diu navigaverant, cum Mochocobocurn perveniunt.' 
Jcazbalcda, Col. Doc, i. 340. 


hostilities of the natives prevented their obtaining 
the needful supply of water. 

There being no one else to curse except them- 
selves, they cursed the pilot, Alaminos, for his dis- 
covery, and for still persisting in calling the country 
an island. Then they left Mala Pelea Bay and re- 
turned along the coast, north-eastwardly, for three 
days, when they entered an opening in the shore to 
which they gave the name of Ester o de los Lagartos, 11 
from the multitude of caimans found there. After 
burning one of the ships which had become unsea- 
worthy, Cordoba crossed from this point to Florida, 
and thence proceeded to Cuba, where he died from 
his wounds, ten days after reaching his home at Santi 

Diego Velazquez was much interested in the details 
of this discovery. He closely questioned the two cap- 
tives about their country, its gold, its great buildings, 
and the plants which grew there. When shown the 
yucca root they assured the governor that they were 
familiar with it, and that it was called by them tale, 
though in Cuba the ground in which the yucca grew 
bore that name. From these two words, according 
to Bernal Diaz, comes the name Yucatan; for while 
the governor was speaking to the Indians of yucca 
and tale, some Spaniards standing by exclaimed, " You 
see, sir, they call their country Yucatan." 12 

11 Pinzon and Solis must have found alligators in their northward cruise, 
otherwise Peter Martyr could not honestly lay down on his map of India be- 
yond the Ganges, in 1510, the baya a" lagartos north of guanase. Mariners 
must have given the coast a bad name, for directly north of the R. de la of 
Colon, the R:. de lag r fos of Ribero, the R:. de lagarts of Vaz Dourado, and 
the R. de Lagartos of Hood, are placed some reefs by all these chart-makers, 
and to which they give the name Alacrane.s, Scorpions. The next name west 
of Lagartos on Map No. x., Munich Atlas, is costanisa, and on No. xiii. Ostanea. 
Again next west, on both, is Medanos. On No. x., next to costa nisa, and on 
No. xiii. , west of Punta de las Arenas, is the name A ncones. Ogilby gives here 
B. de Conil, and in the interior south, a town Conil; east of R. de Lagartos is 
also the town Quyo, and in large letters the name Chuaca. 

13 ' Dezian los Espaiioles q' estavan hablado con el Diego Velazquez, y con los 
Indios: Seiior estos Indios dizen, que su tierra se llama Yucata, y assi se, quedo 
co este nobre, que en propria lengua no se dize assi. ' Hist. Verdad. , 5. Gomara, 
J fist. Ind., 60, states that after naming Catoche, a little farther on the Span- 
iards met some natives, of whom they asked the name of the town near by. 
Tecteta, was the reply, which means, ' I do not understand.' The Spaniards, 


The people of this coast seemed to have heard of 
the Spaniards, for at several places they shouted ' Cas- 
tilians!' and asked the strangers by signs if they did 
not come from toward the rising sun. Yet, neither 
the glimpse caught of Yucatan by Pinzon and Solis 
in 1506 while in search of a strait north of Guanaja 
Island where Columbus had been, nor the piratical 
expedition of Cordoba, in 1517, can properly be called 
the discovery of Mexico. 13 Meanwhile Mexico can 
well afford to wait, being in no haste for European 
civilization, and the attendant boons which Europe 
seems so desirous of conferring. 

accepting this as the answer to their question, called the country Yectetan, 
and soon Yucatan. Waldeck, Voy. Pittoresque, 25, derives the name from the 
native word ouyouclcutan, ' listen to what they say. ' The native name was Ma y&. 
See Bancroft's Native Races, v. 614—34. There are various other theories and 
renderings, among them the following: In answer to Cordoba's inquiry as to 
the name of their country, the natives exclaimed, ' uy u tan, esto es : oyes como 
habla?' Zamacois, Hist. Mej. t ii. 228. 'Que preguntundo a estos Indios, si 
auia en su tierra aquellas rayzes que se llama Yuca. . . . Respondian Ilatli, por 
la tierra en que se plan tan, y que de Yuca juntado con Ilatli, se dixo Yucatta, 
yde alii Yucatan.' I/errera, dec. ii. lib. ii. cap. xviii. Whencesoever the origin, 
it was clearly a mistake, as there never was an aboriginal designation for the 
whole country, nor, like the Japanese, have they names for their straits or 
bays. For some time Yucatan was supposed to be an island. Grijalva called 
the country Isla de Santa Maria de Remedios, though that term was employed 
by few. In early documents the two names are united ; instance the instruc- 
tions of Velazquez to Cortes, where the country is called la Ysla de Yucatan 
Sta Maria de Remedios. On CorteV chart of the Gulf of Mexico, 1520, it is 
called Yucatan, and represented as an island. Colon, 1527, and Ribero, 1529, 
who write Ivcatan; Ptolemy, in Minister, 1530, lucatana; Orontius, on his 
globe, 1531, Iucatans; Munich Atlas, no. iv., 1532-40, cucatan ; Baptista 
Agnese, 1540-50, iucatan; Mercator, 15G9, Ivcatan; Michael Lok, 1582, /»• 
coton; Hondius, 1595, Laet, Ogilby, etc., Yucatan, which now assumes penin- 
sular proportions. 

13 The term Mexico has widely different meanings under different condi- 
tions. At first it signified only the capital of the Nahua nation, and it was 
five hundred years before it overspread the territory now known by that name. 
Mexico City was founded in 1325, and was called Mexico Tenochtitlan. The 
latter appellation has been connected with Tenuch, the Aztec leader at 
this time, and with the sign of a nopal on a stone, ' called in Aztec, re- 
spectively nochtli and tetl, the final syllable representing locality, and the 
first, te, divinity or superiority. The word Mexico, however, was then 
rarely used, Tenochtitlan being the common term employed; and this was 
retained by the Spaniards for some time after the conquest, even in 
imperial decrees, and in the official records of the city, though in the 
corrupt forms of Temixtitan, Tenustitan, etc. See Libro de Cabildo, 1524—9, 
MS. Torquemada, i. 293, states distinctly that even in his time the natives 
never employed any other designation for the ancient city than Tenochtitlan, 
which was also the name of the chief and fashionable ward. Solis, Conq. 
Mex., i. 390, is of opinion that Mexico was the name of the ward, Tenoch- 
titlan being applied to the whole city, in which case Mexico Tenochtitlan 
would signify the ward Mexico of the city Tenochtitlan. Gradually the 



Spanish records began to add Mexico to Tenochtitlan, and in those of the 
first provincial council, held in 1555, we find written Tenuxtitlan Mexico. 
Concitios Prov., i. and ii., MS. In the course of time the older and more in- 
tricate name disappeared, though the city arms always retained the symbolic 
nopal and stone. (Jlavigero, Storia Mess., i. 168; iv. 205-70; Soc. Mex. Geog. 

Arms of the Republic or Mexico. 

Boletin, viii. 408-15; Veytia, Hist. Ant. Me'j., ii. 157-9; Humboldt, Essai Pol., 
i. 146-7; Cavo, Tres Siglos, i. 2; Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., i. 92-3. See 
also Molina, Vocabulario. A number of derivations have been given to the word 
Mexico, as mexitli, navel of the maguey; metl-ico, place amidst the maguey; 
meixco, on the maguey border; mec'itli, hare; metztli, moon; amexica, or mexica, 
you of the anointed ones. The signification spring, or fountain, has also been 
applied. But most writers have contented 
themselves by assuming it to be identical 
with the mexi, mexitl, or mecitl, appellation 
of the war god, Huitzilopochtli, to which 
has been added the co, an affix implying 
locality; hence Mexico would imply the 
place or settlement of Mexica, or Mexicans. 
This war god, Huitzilopochtli, as is well 
known, was the mythic leader and chief 
deity of the Aztecs, the dominant tribe of 
the Nahua nation. It was by this august 
personage, who was also called Mexitl, 
that, according to tradition, the name was 
given them in the twelfth century, and in 
these words : ' Inaxcan aocmoamotoca y na- 
maz te ca ye am mexica, ' Henceforth bear 
ye not the name Azteca, but Mexica. With 
this command they received the distin- 
guishing mark of a patch of gum and 
feathers to wear upon their forehead and 
ears. Bancroft's Native Races, ii. 559 ; iii. 
295-6; v. 324-5 et passim. I can offer no 
stronger proof as to the way in which the 
name was regarded at the time of the con- 
quest, and afterwards, than by placing side by side the maps of the sixteenth 
century and instituting a comparison. In Apiano, Cosmographica, 1575, is 
a map, supposed to be a copy of one drawn by Apianus in 1520, on which 
Themisteton is given apparently to a large lake in the middle of Mexico; 
Fernando Colon, in 1527, and Diego de Ribero, 1529, both give the word 

Ancient Arms of the City of Mexico, 
from a rare print. 


Mexico in small letters, inland, as if applied to a town, although no town is 
designated; Ptolemy, in Minister, 1530, gives Temistitan; Munich, Atlas, no. 
vi., supposed to have been drawn between 1532 and 1540, Timitistan ml 
Mesicho; Baptista Agnese, 1540-50, Timitistan vel Mesico; Ramusio, 1565, 
Mexico; Mercator's Atlas, 1569, Mexico, as a city, and Tenuchitlan ; Michael 
Lok, 1582, Mexico, in Hondius, about 1595, in Drake's World Encompassed, 
the city is Mexico, and the gulf Baia di Mexico; Hondius, in Purchas, His 
Pilr/rimes, Laet, Ogilby, Dampier, West-Indische Spieghel, Jacob Colom, and 
other seventeenth-century authorities, give uniformly to the city, or to the 
city and province, but not to the country at large, the name as at present 





Velazquez Plans a New Expedition — Gives the Command to his 
Nephew, Juan de Grijalva — Who Embarks at Santiago and Strikes 
the Continent at Cozumel Island — Coasts Southward to Ascension 
Bay — Then Turns and Doubles Cape Catoche — Naming of New 
Spain — Fight at Champoton — Arrival at Laguna de Terminos — 
Alaminos, the Pilot, is Satisfied that Yucatan is an Island — 
They Coast westward and Discover the Rivers *San Pedro y San 
Pablo and Tabasco — Notable Interview at this Place between 
the Europeans and the Americans— The Culhua Country — They 
Pass La Rambla, Tonala, the Rio Goazacoalco, the Mountain of 
San Martin, the Rivers of Alvarado and Banderas, and Come to 
the Islands of Sacrificios and San Juan de Ulua. 

As Diego Velazquez talked with Cordoba's men, 
and with the captives, Melchor and Julian, and ex- 
amined the articles obtained from the natives, their 
superior kind and workmanship, and the gold and 
images taken from the temple at Catoche by Father 
Gonzalez, all grew significant of yet greater things 
beyond. The hardships attending the expedition were 
light to him who did not share them, and the late 
commander being now dead, the governor found him- 
self free to act as best suited him. 

He determined at once on a new expedition. There 
was a young man who seemed admirably fitted for 
the purpose, Juan de Grijalva, a gentleman of the 
governor's own town of Cuellar, nephew of Velaz- 
quez, though some deny the fact; he was twenty- 
eight years of age, handsome, chivalrous, courteous, 



and as honest as he was brave. He had been with 
the governor for some time, and the wonder was how 
so bad a master should have so good a man. There 
was no lack of volunteers, two hundred and forty 1 
coming forward at once; among them several who 
afterward became famous. Two caravels were added 
to the two brought back by Cordoba, making in all, 
refitted and equipped, four vessels, the San Sebastian, 
the Trinidad, the Santiago, and the Santa Maria de 
los Remedios. The pilots and many of the men from 
the former expedition were engaged, and some natives 
of Cuba were taken as servants. Grijalva, as com- 
mander of the armada, directed one vessel, and Pe- 
dro de Alvarado, Alonso Davila, and Francisco de 
Montejo, 2 were appointed captains of the others. 
Grijalva's instructions were not to settle, but only to 
discover and trade. 3 License was obtained from the 
Jeronimite Fathers, who stipulated that Francisco de 
Penalosa should accompany the expedition as veedor. 
As priest, attended one Juan Diaz,* and Diego de 
Godoy went as notary. 

1 Solisand Hen-era say 250; GomaraandGalvano, 200; Peter Martyr, 300, etc. 

2 Torquemada, i. 358, asserts that Montejo furnished his own vessel, and 
that Alonso Hernandez Puertocarrero, Alonso Davila, Diego de Ordaz, and 
others, went at their own cost. 

3 As upon this point, that is to say, the orders and their fulfilment, turned 
the destiny, not only of Grijalva, but of the conquest, there has been much 
controversy over it. 'Si Iuan de Grijalua supiera conocer aquella buena ve- 
tura, y poblara alii como los de su compania le rogauan, fuera otro Cortes, mas 
no era para el tanto bien, ni lleuaua comission de poblar.' Gomara, Hist, bid., 
57-8. Partisans of Cortes regard Grijalva with disdain, while no one seems 
greatly to care for Velazquez. Bernal Diaz was of opinion that the matter of 
founding a colony was left to Grijalva's discretion; but Las Casas, who had 
much better opportunities for knowing, being intimate with the governor, and 
at special pains to ascertain the truth of the matter, states clearly that Gri- 
jalva's instructions were positive, that he should not settle but only trade. 
' Bartolorne de las Casas, autor de mucha fe, y que con particular cuydado lo 
quiso saber, y era gran amigo, y muy intimo de Diego Velazquez, dize que fue 
la instruccion que espressamente no poblasse, sino q solamente rescatasse." 
Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. i. So hold Torquemada, Solis, and all careful 
writers on the subject. 

4 Or as he calls himself, ' capellano maggior ' of the armada. Long before 
the soldier, Bernal Diaz, published his 'True History,' Juan Diaz had given 
to the world an account of the voyage, Itinerario de la isola de luchatan, fol- 
lowing the Itinerario de Ludovico de Varthema Bolognese nella Egitto, etc., in a 
volume printed at Venice in 1520. Juan Diaz disputes the honor -with 
Bartolorne de Olmedo of having first said mass in the city of Mexico. 


Embarking from Santiago de Cuba the 8th of 
April, 1518, and leaving Cape San Antonio on Satur- 
day, 5 the first of May,, they fell to the south of their 
intended course, and on Monday sighted the island 
of Cozumel, 6 which they named Santa Cruz, 7 " be- 
cause," says Galvano, " they came to it the third of 
May." After passing round the northern point on 
the sixth 8 in search of anchorage, the commander 

5 Here again Prescott falls into error in attempting to follow a manuscript 
copy of Juan Diaz, without due heed to the standard chroniclers. Mr Pres- 
cott writes, Mex., i. 224, 'The fleet left the port of St Jago de Cuba, May 
1, 1518,' and refers to the Itinerario of Juan Diaz in proof of his statement. 
But Juan Diaz makes no such statement. ' Sabbato il primo giorno del mese 
de Mazo,' he says, Itinerario, in Irazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 281, 'de questo 
sopradito anno parti il dicto capitaneo de larmata de lisola Fernandina.' 
Saturday, the 1st day of May, the armada left the island of Fernandina, or 
Cuba. The writer does not intimate that they left the port of Santiago on 
that day, which, as a matter of fact, they did not, but the extreme western 
point of the island, Cape San Antonio. This Prescott might further have 
learned from Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. i., 'Despachado pues Iuan de Grijalua 
de todo punto, salio del puerto de Satiago de Cuba, a ocho de Abril deste aiio 
de 1518;' from Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 6, who states that all met and at- 
tended mass at Matanzas, the 5th of April, just prior to Sailing; ' Y despues 
de auer oido Missa con gran deuocion, en cinco dias del mes de Abril de mil y 
quinientos y diez y ochoanos dimos vela;' from Solis, Conq.Mex., i. 25, 'tar- 
daron fmalmente en hacerse a la mar hasta los ocho de Abril ;' from Robertson, 
Hist. Am., i. 241, 'He sailed from St Jago de Cuba on the 8th of April,' etc. 
Ternaux-Compans perpetrates two gross blunders in the first four lines "of 
his translation of this Itinerario of Juan Diaz. First he writes March for May, 
' equivocando, ' as Icazbalceta says, 'la palabra mazo del original con marzo, i 
and, secondly, he brings the fleet to Cozumel Island on the 4th, when his author 
writes the 3d, which is enough, without the palpable absurdity of making 
Monday the 4th day of a month wherein the previous Saturday was the 1 st. 
Oviedo states, i. 503, that ' salieron del puerto de la cibdad de Sanctiago a los 
veynte e cinco dias del mes de enero ; ' that they were at Matanzas the 1 2th of 
February, at Habana the 7th of April; that they left Matanzas finally the 
20th of April, and San Antonio the 1st of May, in all which, except the last 
statement, he is somewhat confused. 

6 Like a good soldier, Bernal Diaz makes the time fit the occasion. 'A este 
pueblo,' he says, Hist. Verdad., 7, 'pusimos por nombre Santa Cruz; pore] 
quatro, 6 cinco diaz antes de Santa Cruz le vimos.' The native name of the 
island was Acusamil — Landa, Rel. de Yuc. , 20, writes it Cuzmil; Cogolludo, Hist. 
Yucathan, 10, Cuzamil — Swallow's Island, which was finally corrupted into 
the Cozumel of the Spaniards. Mercator, indeed, writes Acusamil, in 1569, 
although Colon, Ribero, and Hood had previously given cocumel, cozumel, and 
Cosumel, respectively. Vaz Dourado comes out, in 1571, with quoqumell, since 
which time the name has been generally written as at present. 

7 Some of the authorities apply the name Santa Cruz to a port; others to a 
town found there; but it was unquestionably the island to which they gave 
this name. ' A questa isola de Cocumel che ahora se adimanda Santa Croce. ' 
Diaz, Itinerario, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 287. ' Se le puso nombre a esta 
Isla Sancta Cruz, a la qual los indios llaman Cocumel.' Oviedo, i. 504. 

8 This, according to Diaz ; Oviedo says they landed on Wednesday, the 5th, 
and again on the 6th ; and Bernal Diaz affirms that the landing took place on 
the south side of the island. 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 2 



landed with a hundred men, and ascending a high 
tower took possession of the country; after which, 
mass was said. And Las Casas questions if it w T as 
quite right for Juan Diaz to hold this solemn service 
in a place where sacrifices were wont to be made to 
Satan; for even between the two great and forma] 
exercises of the Spaniards, an old Indian priest with 
his attendants had entered and had blown incense 
before the idols, as if to rouse his gods to vindicate 
their might before these opposing worshippers. To 

the point w T as given the name San Felipe y Santiago, 
and to a town standing near, that of San Juan ante 
Portam Latinam. Then they entered the town, and 
found there houses of stone, and paved streets, in the 
eyes of Juan Diaz not unlike the towns of Spanish 
construction. Meanwhile, a small party penetrated 
one or two leagues into the interior, and observed 
other towns and cultivated lands. 

While crossing to the Yucatan coast the following 
day, they descried in the distance three towns, and, 
as "they descended toward the south, a city "so large 
that Seville could not show to better advantage." 


Next they came to a great opening in the shore, to 
which, after Alaminos had examined it in a boat, they 
gave the name of Bahia de la Ascension, from the 
day of discovery. Unable to find a pass in this di- 
rection round the supposed island of Yucatan, they 
turned back, passed Cozumel, and, rounding the penin- 
sula, arrived at Campeche the 25th, rescuing on their 
way a woman from Jamaica. 

Everywhere they beheld the same evidences of 
high culture seen by Cordoba, the tower-temples and 
crosses of the Mayas rising from gracefully outlined 
promontories, and glistening white from behind le- 
gended hills, leading them every moment to antici- 
pate the discovery of some magnificent city, such as 
in our day has been revealed to an admiring poster- 
ity; for while the East buries her ancient cities in 
dust, the West none the less effectually hides hers 
in foliage. And of the monuments to the greatness 
of the past, and of the profitless millions here en- 
gendered, who shall speak ? And why do men call 
nature considerate or kind? Does she not create 
only to destroy, and bestow blessings and cursings 
with the same merciless indifference? Surpassingly 
lovely, she is at once siren, nurse, and sanguinary 
beldam. This barren border of the peninsula rested 
under a canopy of clear or curtained sky, and glared 
in mingled gloom and brightness beside the fickle 
gulf; and from the irregular plains of the interior 
came the heated, perfumed air, telling here of tree- 
less table-lands, of languid vegetation, and there of 
forests and evergreen groves. " It is like Spain," 
cried one. And so they called the country Nueva 
Espana, 9 which name, at first applied only to the 

9 It was the crosses, which the Spaniards here regarded of miraculous origin, 
more than any physical feature which after all gave the name to these shores. 
Cortes established it for all the region under Aztec sway, and under the vice- 
roys it was applied to all the Spanish possessions north of Guatemala, includ- 
ing the undefined territories of California and New Mexico. Humboldt, Essai 
Pol., i. 6-7, and others, have even shown an inclination to embrace thereun- 
der Central America, but for this there is not sufficient authority. See Me- 


peninsula of Yucatan, finally spread over the whole 
of the territory afterward known as Mexico. 

At Campeche, or more probably at Champoton, 10 
occurred a notable affray. The fleet anchored toward 
sunset, half a league from shore. The natives imme- 
diately put on a warlike front, bent on terrible intimi- 
dations, which they continued in the form of shouts 
and drum-beating during the entire night. So great 
was their necessity for water that the Spaniards did 
not wait for the morning, but amidst the arrows, 
stones, and spears of the natives, they landed the ar- 
tillery and one hundred men before daybreak, another 
hundred quickly following. But for their cotton 
armor the invaders would have suffered severely 
during this operation. Having reached the shore, 
however, the guns were planted, and the natives 

dina, Chron. de San Diego deMex., 227; Lopez Vaz, inPurchas, His Pilgrimes, 
iv. 1432, and Gottfriedt, New?, Welt, 74; also Torquemada, from Herrera, and 
several standard authors. New Spain was for a long time divided into the 
three kingdoms of New Spain, New Galicia, and New Leon, each composed 
of several provinces. Under the administration of Galvez, this division gave 
way to intendencias, among them Mexico and a few provinces, and New Spain 
came to be limited in the north by the Provincias Internas, though including 
for a time at least the Californias. With the independence the name New 
Spain was replaced by Mexico, less because this term applied to the leading 
province and to the capital, than because the name was hallowed by associa- 
tion with the traditions of the people, whose blood as well as sympathies con- 
tained far more of the aboriginal element than of the imported. On Colon's 
map the name is given in capital letters, Nova Spaiia. Under Nveva Espafia 
Ribero writes dixose asi por queay aquy muchas cosas que ay en espafia ay ya 
mucho trigo qan lleuado de aca entanta cantidad q lo pueden ea cargar para 
otras partes ay aquy mucho oro de nacimieuto. Robert Thorne, in HalduyVs 
Voy., carries Hispania Noua, east and west through Central America, while 
Ramusio, Viaggi, iii. 455, places La Nova Spagna in large letters across the 

10 It is remarkable, as I have often observed, how two eye-witnesses can 
sometimes tell such diametrically opposite stories ; not only in regard to time 
and minor incidents, but to place and prominent events. In this instance Diaz 
the priest is no less positive and minute in placing the affair at Campeche, 
than is Diaz the soldier, at Champoton. The second-rate authorities, follow- 
ing these two writers who were present, are divided, by far the greater num- 
ber, Herrera among the rest, accepting the statement of Bernal Diaz. Oviedo, 
who was a resident of the Indies at the time, describes the battle as occurring 
at Campeche. Perhaps one reason why the soldier-scribe has more adherents 
than the priest, is because the existence of the narrative of the latter was not 
so well known. Las Casas affirms, Hist. Ind., iv. 425, that the pilot unin- 
tentionally passed Lazaro's port, or Campeche, and landed and fought at 
Champoton. ' Llegaron, pues, al dicho pueblo (que, como dije, creo. que fu6 
Champoton, y no el de Lazaro).' 


charged and driven back with the loss of three Span- 
iards slain and sixty wounded, the commander-in- 
chief, ever foremost in the fight, being three times 
struck and losing two teeth. Two hundred were killed 
and wounded among the natives. The town was 
found deserted. Presently three ancient Americans 
appeared, who were kindly entreated, and despatched 
with presents to the fugitives, but they never re- 
turned. Two nights were spent ashore, the tower 
and sacred edifices adjacent being used as barracks. 

Embarking, soon a large opening in the coast was 
discovered, and entered by Grijalva, the chaplain 
says, the last day of May. Puerto Deseado 11 the 
commander called his anchorage, being the desired 
spot in which might be repaired the leaky ships. 
The Spaniards thought themselves at first at the 
mouth of a river, but on further examination, it ap- 
peared to them more like a sea. Whereupon the 
pilot Alaminos, who, notwithstanding evidence to 
the contrary, notwithstanding three days' explorings, 
left this salt-sheet still landlocked, never ceased in- 
sisting that Yucatan was an island, and he now 
gravely assured his commander that the great open- 
ing opposite Amatique Bay and Golfo Dulce, or if 
that were too far, then opposite Chetumal or Ascen- 
sion, confirmed his suppositions, and settled the 
matter in his mind that this was the termination of 
the islands; hence the names Boca de Terminos, and 
Laguna de Terminos, 12 which followed. The temples 

11 Puerto Escondido. On the maps of Colon and Hood it is placed as one 
of the eastern entrances of the Laguna de Terminos, the former writing p. 
deseado, and the latter P. desiado; Gomara places the Laguna de Terminos 
between Puerto Deseado and Rio Grijalva. On Ribero's map, north of Escon- 
dido, is la ger, Vaz Dourado marking in the same locality jj:. seq° amgratriste, 
Dampier gives Boca Eschondido, and Jefferys, Boca Escondida. 

12 Velazquez had instructed his captain to sail round the island of Yucatan. 
Cortes, in 1519, ordered Escobar to survey this sheet, which was found to be 
a bay and shallow. Still the pilots and chart-makers wrote it down an island. 
It is worthy of remark that in the earliest drawings, like Colon's, in 1527, the 
maker appears undecided, but Ribero, two years later, boldly severs the 
peninsula from the continent with a strait. See Goldschmidt's Cartog. Pac. 
Coast, MS., i. 412-14. The earliest cartographers all write terminos, Ribero 
marking a small stream flowing into the lagoon, R:. de x pianos. Here also 


here seen were supposed by the Spaniards to be 
places where merchants and hunters made their sacri- 
fices. A greyhound, eager in the pursuit of game, 
neglected to return in time and was left behind; 
when the Spaniards came with Cortes they found the 
animal well-fed and happy, but excessively glad to 
see them. Before departing, Grijalva again declared 
for Spain, "as if," growls Las Casas, "the thousand 
possessions already taken were not enough." Indeed, 
this fierce charging on a continent, so often repeated, 
hurling upon the inhabitants a new religion and a new 
king, was about as effective as Caligula's advance 
on Britain, when, preparatory to crossing, he drew 
up his troops in battle array, on the seaboard, and 
gave orders to collect shells, the spoils of conquered 

Proceeding the 8th of June, and creeping stealth- 
ily along the coast, 13 dropping anchor at night and 
weighing it with the dawn, they came to a river which 
they called San Pedro y San Pablo, and then to a 
larger one, the native name of which was Tabasco, 14 
after the cacique of the city, but which the Spaniards 
called Grijalva, in honor of their commander. 

The face of nature here changed. The low, gray 
hills of the peninsula gave place to elevations of en- 
livening green, made lustrous by large and frequent 

is the town and point of Jicalango. Ogilby calls the lagoon Lago de Xica- 
lango, east of which is the name N ra Sra de la Vitoria- Dampier places south 
of Laguna Termina the town Chukabul; Jefferys writes in large letters, a little 
south of Laguna de Xicalango or Terminos, the words Quehaches Indtos Braoos. 
Kohl thinks Puerto Escondido may be the Puerto Deseado of Grijalva men- 
tioned by Gomara. 

13 Of 'la isola riccha chiamata Ualor,' as the chaplain calls it, Diaz, Itlne- 
rariOj in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 295, 'descoprir una altra terra che se dice 
Mulua.' Alaminos believed New Spain to be another island distinct from 
Yucatan. The natives called it Colua, says Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 428. 

11 On the chart of Cortes, 1520, it is called R:. de Guzalua, and placed west 
instead of east of Rio Santa Ana. Ribero writes, R:. de grisalua; Vaz Dourado, 
R n . de grigalua; Hood, R. de Grisalua; Mercator's Atlas, 1574, has a town, 
Tausco ; Ogilby, Dampier, and Jefferys employ the name Tabasco. Kohl 
ascribes the name of the river San Pedro y San Pablo to Grijalva. Colon has 
R:. de 8. pablo; Ribero, R. de s:. Pab<>; Munich Atlas, No. iv., rio de s. p.; 
Baptista Agnese, rio de S. paulo; Hood, R. de S. Pablo; Ogilby, S. Paulo: 
Dampier, St. Peter, St. Paul, etc. As there are plenty of streams in that vicinity 
Herrera gives one to Grijalva and still leaves the chieftain, Tabasco, his own. 


streams. Boldly in the front stood the heights at 
present known as San Gabriel; beyond continued the 
flat, monotonous foreground of a gorgeous picture, as 
yet but dimly visible save in the ardent imaginings 
of the discoverers. 

The two smaller vessels only could enter this 
river of Tabasco, which, though broad, was shallow- 
mouthed; and this they did very cautiously, advanc- 
ing a short distance up the stream, and landing at 
a grove of palm-trees, half a league from the chief 
town. Upon the six thousand 15 natives who here 
threatened them, they made ready to fire; but by 
peaceful overtures the sylvan multitude were brought 
to hear of Spain's great king, of his mighty preten- 
sions, and of the Spaniards' inordinate love of gold. 
The green beads the natives thought to be stone 
made of their chalchiuite, which they prized so 
highly, and for which they eagerly exchanged food. 
Having a lord of their own they knew not why these 
rovers should wish to impose upon them a new 
master; for the rest they were fully prepared, if 
necessary, to defend themselves. During this inter- 
view, at which the interpreters, Melchor and Julian, 
assisted, the word Culhua, 16 meaning Mexico, was 
often mentioned in answer to demands for gold, from 

15 It is Las Casas who testifies to G,000 ; Bernal Diaz enumerates 50 canoes ; 
Herrera speaks of three Xiquipiles of 8,000 men each, standing ready in that 
vicinity to oppose the Spaniards, waiting only for the word to be given. 

16 Not 'Culba, Culba, Mexico, Mexico,' as Bernal Diaz has it. The na- 
tives pronounced the word Culhua only ; but this author, finding that Culhua 
referred to Mexico, puts the word Mexico into the mouth of Tabasco and his 
followers. Long before the Aztecs, a Toltec tribe called the Acolhuas, or 
Culhuas, had settled in the valley of Mexico. The name is more ancient 
than that of Toltec, and the Mexican civilization might perhaps as appro- 
priately be called Culhua as Nahua. The name is interpreted 'crooked' 
from coloa, bend; also 'grandfather' from colli. Colhuacan might therefore 
signify Land of our Ancestors. Under Toltec dominion a tripartite confed- 
eracy had existed in the valley of Anahuac, and when the Aztecs became the 
ruling nation, this alliance was reestablished. It was composed of the Acol- 
hua, Aztec, and Tepanec kingdoms, the Aztec king assuming the title Culhua 
Tecuhtli, chief of the Culhuas. It is evident that the Culhuas had become 
known throughout this region by their conquests, and by their culture, supe- 
rior as it was to that of neighboring tribes. The upstart Aztecs were only 
too proud to identify themselves with so renowned a people. The name 
Culhua was retained among the surrounding tribes, and applied before 
Grijalva to the Mexican country, where gold was indeed abundant. 


which the Spaniards inferred that toward, the west 
they would find their hearts' desire. Then thoy re- 
turned to their ships. 

In great state, unarmed, and without sign of fear, 
Tabasco next day visited Grijalva on board his vessel. 
He had already sent roasted fish, fowl, maize bread, 
and fruit, and now he brought gold and feather-work. 
Out of a chest borne by his attendants was taken a 
suit of armor, of wood overlaid with gold, which Ta- 
basco placed upon Grijalva, and on his head a golden 
helmet, giving him likewise masks and breast-plates 
of gold and mosaic, and targets, collars, bracelets, and 
beads, all of beaten gold, three thousand pesos in value. 
With the generous grace and courtesy innate in him, 
Grijalva took off' a crimson velvet coat and cap which 
he had on when Tabasco entered, also a pair of new 
red shoes, and in these brilliant habiliments arrayed 
the chieftain, to his infinite delight. 

The Spaniards departed from Tabasco with further 
assurances of friendship, and two days later sighted the 
town of Ahualulco, which they named La Rambla, 
because the natives with tortoise-shell shields were 
observed huriwing hither and thither upon the shore. 
Afterward they discovered the river Tonala, which 
was subsequently examined and named San Antonio; 17 
then the Goazacoalco, 18 which they could not enter 
owing to unfavorable vdnds; and presently the great 
snowy mountains of New Spain, and a nearer range, 
to which they gave the name San Martin, 19 in justice 

17 'Das grosse Fest des heiligen Antonius von Padua fallt auf den 13 Juni, 
and dies giebt uns also eine Gelegenheit eines der Dat'en der Reise des Gri- 
jalva, deren uns die Berichterstatter, wie immer, nur wenige geben, genau 
f estzusetzen. ' Kohl, Beiden dltesten Karten, 105. Cortds, in his chart of the 
Gulf of Mexico, 1520, calls it Santo Anton; Fernando Colon, 1527, B. de la 
Balsa, with the&iame G. de s. anion to the gulf; Eibero, 1529, r: de Sat on; 
Globe of Orontius, 1531, C. S. ctto; Vaz Dourado, 1571, rio de S. ana; Hood, 
1592, R. de S. Antonio, etc. For Santa Ana Dampier in 1699 lays down St. 
Anns, and Jefferys in 1776, B. St. Ann. 

18 Cortes calls it Bio de totuqualquo; Colon, B. de gasacalcos; Ribero, B. de 
guasacalco; Orontius, B. de qualq ; Vaz Dourado, B.° de de (juaqaqa; Hood, 
B. de Guaca ; Mercator, Quacaqualco; De Laet, Ogilby, B. de Guazacoalco; 
Jefferys, B. Guazacalo; Dampier, B. Guazacoalco or Guashigwalp. 

19 Colon gives it, Sierras de San mrti; Vaz Dourado, seras de S. martin; 


to the soldier who first saw it. Overcome by his 
ardor, Pedro de Alvarado pressed forward his faster- 
sailing ship, and entered before the others a river 
called by the natives Papaloapan, but named by his 
soldiers after the discoverer; 20 for which breach of 
discipline the captain received the censure of his com- 
mander. The next stream to which they came was 
called Rio de Banderas, 21 because the natives appeared 
in large numbers, carrying white flags on their lances. 
With these white flags the natives beckoned the 
strangers to land; whereupon twenty soldiers were 
sent ashore under Francisco de Montejo, and a favor- 
able reception being accorded them, the commander 
approached with his ships and landed. The utmost 
deference was paid the guests, for, as will hereafter 
more fully appear, the king of kings, Lord Monte- 
zuma, having in his capital intelligence of the strange 
visitors upon his eastern seaboard, ordered them to 
be reverentially entertained. In the cool shade was 
spread on mats an abundance of provisions, while 
fumes of burning incense consecrated the spot and 
made redolent the air. The governor of this prov- 
ince was present with two subordinate rulers, and 
learning what best the Spaniards loved, he sent out 
and gathered them gold trinkets to the value of fif- 
teen thousand pesos. So valuable an acquisition im- 
pelled Grijalva to claim once more for Charles, one of 
the natives, subsequently christened Francisco, acting 
as interpreter. After a stay of six days the fleet 
sailed, passing a small island, white with sand, which 

Hood, Sierras de St- min; Ogilby, Sierras de S. Martin; Dampier, St. Martin's 
High Land, and St. Martin's Point. This soldier, San Martin, was a native 
of Habana. 

20 Herrera makes the Indian name Papaloava ; Bernal Diaz, Papalohuna, 
Cortes, 1520, and Orontius, 1531, give n. d alvarado; Colon, 1527, R: del 
comendador aluarado ; Ribero, 1529, /?.*. de Aluarado ; Vaz Dourado, 1571, 
R°. de Alluorado, etc. ' Die Karte von 1527 hat den Rio del comendador Alva- 
rado etwas weiter westlich, jenseits des Rio de banderas, welches keineswegs 
mit den Berichten des Bernal Diaz libereinstimmt. ' Kohl, Beiden altesten 
KaHen, 100. 

21 Some of the early maps place this stream incorrectly east of the Papa- 
loapan; where Ribero writes P. delyada, first east from R: de uanderds, Vaz 
Dourado writes p:. de hiqada. 


Grijalva called Isla Blanca, and then the Isla Verde, 
gleaming green with foliage amidst the green waters, 
four leagues from the continent; coming presently to 
a third island, a league and a half from the mainland, 
which afforded good anchorage. This, according to 
Oviedo, was on the 18th of June. On landing the 
Spaniards found two stone temples, within which lay 
five human bodies, with bowels opened and limbs cut 
off; and all about were human heads on poles, while 
at the top of one of the edifices, ascended by stone 
steps, was the likeness of a lion in marble, with a 
L~ 11, ? TV head, showing the tongue cut out, and oppo- 
site to it a stone idol and blood-fount. Here was 
evidently a sacrifice to some pagan deity; and touch- 
ing it is to witness the horror with which these 
men of Spain regarded such shocking spectacles, 
while viewing complacently their own atrocious 

Crossing from Isla de Sacrificios, as they called this 
blood-bespattered place, the Spaniards landed on the 
adjoining mainland, and making for themselves shel- 
ter with boughs and sails began trading for gold ; but 
the natives being timid and returns inconsiderable, 
Grijalva proceeded to another island, less than a 
league from the mainland and provided with water. 
Here was a harbor sheltered from the dread yet 
grateful north winds, which in winter rush in with 
passionate energy, driving away the dreadful summer 
vomito and tumbling huge surges on the strand, 
though now they formed but a wanton breeze by day, 
which slept on waves burnished by the radiant sun 
or silvered by the moon. Here they landed and 
erected huts upon the sand. 22 To the Spaniards all 
nature along this seaboard seemed dyed with the blood 

22 The Chaplain Diaz affirms that ten days were passed on the mainland, 
where Indians dressed in mantles brought them food, and where they melted 
their gold into bars ; and that on the San Juan Island they appointed one of 
the natives cacique, christening him Ovando. ' El capitaneo li disse che non 
volevano se non oro et loro resposseno che lo portariano laltro giorno portorono 
oro fondido in verghe et lo capitaneo li disse che portasseno molto d quello.' 
Itinerario, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 299. 


of human sacrifices. And here, beside evidences of 
heathen abominations in the forms of a great temple, 
idols, priests, and the bodies of two recently sacri- 
ficed boys, they had gnats and mosquitoes to annoy 
them, all which led them to consider the terror of 
their voyage and the advisability of return. Of the 
Indian, Francisco, Grijalva asked the significance of 
the detestable rite of ripping open living human bodies 
and offering bloody hearts to hungry gods; and the 
heathen answered, because the people of Culhua, or 
Ulua, as he pronounced the name, would have it so. 
From this circumstance, together with the facts that 
the name of the commander was Juan, and that it 
was now about the time of the anniversary of the feast 
of John the Baptist, the island was named San Juan 
de Ulua, 23 while the continent in that vicinity was 
called Santa Maria de las Nieves. 

23 To distinguish it, Herrera says, from San Juan de Puerto Rico. On the 
chart of Cortes, 1520, the B:. de Sant Juan is laid down, but no other names 
are given except that of Sacrificios Island, which is placed some distance out 
and called Y s della creficio. On Orontius' globe, 1531, three islands are 
called Insula Sacrifici. Colon lays down R: de s. Juhan; R. salado; R: de s. 
x poaae (christobal) ; villa rica, and ye°: de sacreficios. Eibero designates R:. 
de s.Jua; R:. de cdpual; uilla rica, and y:. - de sacficios. Vaz Dourado writes 
R.° de Sao (santo) Jodo (Juan); llaueracrus (la vera cruz), and uilla liquet 
(villa rica). Hood gives R. de medelin; S. Jon delua; Laueracruz; Sen Jual; 
Villa Rica; and marks the point south of Vera Cruz P. de antonisardo. Mer- 
cator gives Villa Rica; Ogilby, S. Juan de Luz, and north of it Villarica. On 
another of his maps we find S. Juan de Lua; Pta de Ant Sardo, I. y Fuerca 
de la vera Cruz neuva, La Vera Cruz, R. Medelin, and Y&s de Sacrificios. See 
further Cartography North Am., MS., i. 531. Las Casas confounds the islands 
Sacrificios and Ulua, calling them one. The Spaniards supposed the conti- 
nent thereabout, far into the interior, was known to the natives as Culhua ; 
hence we find Velazquez, in his instructions to Cortds, Mendoza, Col. Doc, 
xii. 227, speaking of 'una tierra grande, que parte della se llama Ulua, que 
puso por nombre Santa Maria de las Nieves. ' See also Oviedo, i. 539. 




Refusal of Grijalva to Settle — Alvarado Sent back to Cuba — Grijalva 
Continues his Discovery — After Reaching the Province of Panuco 
he Turns back — Touching at the Rio Goazacoalco, Tonala, the 
Laguna de Terminos, and Champoton, the Expedition Returns to 
Cuba — Grijalva Traduced and Discharged — A New Expedition 
Planned — Velazquez Sends to Santo Domingo and Spain — Charac- 
ters of Velazquez and Grijalva Contrasted — Candidates for the 
Captaincy of the New Expedition — The Alcalde of Santiago Suc- 
cessful — His Standing at that Time. 

At various places during this expedition, notably 
where is now Vera Cruz, and at the River Tabasco, 
both in coming and returning, Grijalva's men begged 
permission to settle and subdue the country. In 
their desire to remain they pictured to themselves all 
the pleasures of the abandoned crew of Ulysses, in a 
land as happy as that of which Horace sang, where 
Ceres decked untilled fields with sheaves and Bacchus 
revelled under purple-clustered vines. And they were 
angry with their commander for not breaking the in- 
structions which forbade his colonizing. Pedro de 
Alvarado was particularly chafed by the restraint, 
though he kept his temper until he obtained permis- 
sion to return to Cuba with one of the vessels 1 which 
had become unseaworthy, so as to report to the gov- 
ernor the progress of the discovery, and obtain re- 
cruits and fresh supplies, with permission to found a 
colony. Beside some fifty sick persons, all the gold, 
cotton, and other articles obtained from the natives 

1 Herrera says it was the San Sebastian; Oviedo, the Trinidad. 



thus far were placed in Alvarado's ship, which sailed 
the 24th of June. The remainder of the expedition 
continued its now north-westward course past Nautla, 2 
which the Spaniards called Almeria, and with the 
mountains of Tuxpan 3 in full view, advanced as far 
as Cabo Rojo, some say as far as the Rio de Pa- 
nuco. 4 The entrance to the large lagoon now known 
as the Bahia de Tanguijo, was mistaken for a river 
and named Rio de Canoas. On anchoring here the 
ships of the Spaniards were fiercely attacked by the 
occupants of twelve canoes, 5 which came out from a 
large city compared by the worthy chaplain to 
Seville in size and magnificence, in common with 
other towns along this seaboard; and as if this were 
not strange enough, the same authority goes on to 

2 Town and river given both by Cortes and Orontius. Colon writes R: de 
almeria ; Ribero almera; Vaz Dourado, allm,eira; Hood, A Imeria; nos. vi. and 
vii., Munich Atlas, rio tie almeria, and Mercator, Almeria. Ogilby places 
north of Lhanos de Almeria a large gnlf labelled R. de S P° y S Paulo, and 
south of it Toluia, and Tore Branco. Dampier lays down Almeria I. opposite 
Tispe and Haniago Isle on the mainland. Laet gives Naothlan 6 Almeria, and 
Lhanos de Almeria. 

3 ' Vimos las sierras de Tusta, y mas adelante de a hi a otros dos dias vi- 
mos otros sierras muy altas, q agora se llama las sierras de Tuspa;' so called, 
Bernal Diaz says, Hist. Verdad., 10, from the towns lying at their base. The 
Rio de Tuxpan is supposed to be the San Pedro y San Pablo of early days. 
' Da das Peter-und Pauls-Fest auf den 29 Juni. ' 

4 Kohl thinks Grijalva did not pass Cabo Rojo, the C:. roxo of Vaz 
Dourado, and Hood, and I am inclined to agree with him. Bernal Diaz says, 
Hist. Verdad, 10, ' Yestoes ya en la Provincia de Panuco: e yendo pornuestra 
nauegacio llegamos a vn rio grande, que le pusimos por nobre Rio de Canoas. ' 
The nomenclature of this stream is quite regular in the several times and 
places. Cortes gives Rio Panuco loaton ; Colon, R: panuco; Ribero and Vaz 
Dourado, panuco; Orontius, R. panico; Hood, Panuco; Baptista Agnese, panu- 
cho, and rio panucho ; no. vi. Munich Atlas the same ; Ptolemy, 1530, in Mini- 
ster, Panuco; Mercator, river and town Panuco, and next town south Chila. 
And so on with Hondius, Ogilby, Dampier, and the rest. See Gold schm'n It's 
(Jo Hog. Pac. Coast, MS. , i. 578. Upon the hypothesis that the San Pedro y San 
Pablo and the Tuxpan were two streams, the latter may have been the Rio de 
Canoas of Grijalva and the Panuco discovered by Montejo and Alaminos the 
year following, as Kohl surmises, but not otherwise. Herrera says the expe- 
dition did not pass Cabo Rojo; Bernal Diaz speaks of a wide projecting cape, 
which does not exist beyond the Panuco River. Yet both affirm that the 
province of Panuco was reached, and we well know that little would be said 
to strangers of an aboriginal province by its inhabitants before its great town, 
or its great river, was approached. Hence the general impression that Gri- 
jalva on this occasion coasted as far as Tampico, and that the Panuco was his 
Rio de Canoas. It is my opinion that the entrance to the Bahia de Tanguijo, 
mistaken for a river, was the Rio de Canoas of Grijalva, and that Cabo Rojo 
was his ultimate point of discovery. 

J Some say sixteen. 


relate a miracle which happened here because Grijalva 
refused the soldiers leave to sack the place; how a 
star, poised above the fleet after sunset, shot toward 
the town and hung over it invitingly, as if Jehovah 
signified his pleasure that the Christians should seize 
the city. 6 

After beating back the canoes the Spaniards 
proceeded, but found their course impeded by the 
currents off Cabo Rojo; from which circumstance, 
together with the hostility of the natives, the rapidity 
with which the season was advancing:, and the condi- 
tion of the ships, they determined to return. Turn- 
ing toward the southward, therefore, they were carried 
past the River Goazacoalco by boisterous winds, and 
entered Tonala to careen and repair a leaky vessel. 7 
Again the men blasphemed and held the commander 
in derision because he would not settle. After sev- 
eral failures in starting they continued the voyage, 
encountered bad weather, touched at Deseado for 
water, engaged in a parting fight with the natives 
of Champoton, sailed again, and the fifth reached 
San Lazaro, where they were led into ambush while 
searching for water, and attacked. After helping 
themselves to maize they embarked, followed the 
shore past Rio de Lagartos, the Comi of the natives, 
whence they sailed for Cuba, and arrived at Matanzas 
about the first of November. 8 

6 In questo giorno sul tardi vedessemo miracolo ben grande el qual fu che 
apparve una stella incima la nave dapoi el tramontar del sole et partisse sem- 
pre buttando razi lino che se pose sopra quel vilagio over populo grande et 
lasso uno razo ne laiere che duro piu de tre hore grande et anchora vedessimo 
altri signal ben chiari dove comprendessemo che dio volea per suo servitio po- 
pulassemo la dicta terra. Jtinerario, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 302. 

7 Bernal Diaz claims to have planted here the first orange-seeds sown in 
New Spain. It was at the base of a temple, on whose summit he had enjoyed 
a refreshing sleep, above the clouds of mosquitoes, and through gratitude he 
sowed these seed, which he had brought from Cuba. He tells, likewise, of 
obtaining here by barter 4,000 pesos, which, with the 16,000 pesos Alvarado 
carried home, made 20,000 pesos secured during the voyage. Among the 
treasures were some copper hatchets, which the Spaniards took to be an infe- 
rior kind of gold. Las Casas gives a detailed description of the treasures 
obtained by this expedition, among which was an emerald worth 2,000 ducats, 
from the mainland opposite Isla de Sacrificios. 

b This, following Oviedo, who in 1523 visited Velazquez, and was told 


When Grijalva cast anchor in the bay of Ma- 
tanzas his heart beat high with promise.- He had 
returned successful from a brilliant discovery, in 
which had begun that pronounced mastery of life 
which is the dream of every chivalrous mind. There 
had been nothing in the least irrational in his policy, 
or fickle or factious in his conduct. He had used 
diligence and discretion, had been true to his com- 
panions, and faithful to his king and to his chief. 
Surely his uncle would praise him, his governor 
would reward him, and his king would intrust him 
with new commissions. So he deserved; so he had 
every reason to expect, and hence it was with pride 
and pleasure that he once more set foot on Isla Fer- 

But, unfortunately, this most virtuous cavalier was 
now destined to reap the too common reward of hon- 
est service in the cause of a vicious master. Scarcely 
had Grijalva landed, when a letter from the governor 
was placed in his hand, ordering him to repair with 
his ships at once to Santiago, and at the same time 
to notify his soldiers that opportunity would be 
quickly given all who desired to embark in a fresh 
adventure to New Spain, and that meanwhile they 
might rest themselves at the governor's farms in that 
vicinity. Then, too, he first learned how Velazquez, 
ever fickle and distrustful as are all timid and un- 
scrupulous men, becoming nervous concerning the 
fleet, had sent Cristobal de Olid in a small vessel 
with seven soldiers to search and report; and that on 
reaching the coast of Yucatan a storm had obliged 
the explorer to part with his anchor and return to 
Cuba. 9 Before the return of Olid, Alvarado had 

these things. Other authors give widely different accounts of Grijalva's 
return, most of them taking him at once from Tonala to Matanzas, but 
allowing forty days for the voyage. Oviedo dates Grijalva's arrival at the 
River Goazacoalco July 9; at Deseado, August 17 ; at Champoton, September 
1 ; San Lazaro, September 5, and Matanzas, October 8, which is too early, 
according to the date of Cortes' instructions. 

9 Oviedo says that Olid went to Cozumel and took possession of the island, 
thinking he had discovered it; then coasting north and westward to a port, 


arrived with the gold and good tidings from the 
armada, which gave the governor unbounded joy. 
Grijalva had yet to learn, however, how Alvarado, 
not forgetting the censure bestowed on him for dis- 
obedience, had not failed to color the conduct of his 
commander to suit his own ends. Grijalva's repeated 
refusals to colonize were paraded as tho gross mis- 
takes of a stubborn and spiritless man; the coolness 
and bravery displayed at Champoton were made to 
appear as reckless imprudence; and as the governor 
thought of the danger to which his adventure had 
there been subjected, he became alarmed. " Had I 
lost all," he muttered, "it would have been a 'just 
penalty for sending such a fool." And now both 
Ddvila and Montejo poured fresh poison into the ear 
of the governor respecting his nephew, in revenge 
for similar fancied injuries; so that when Grijalva 
reported himself to Velazquez at Santiago, he was 
told to go his way, since the governor had no further 
use for him. 

Indeed, this line of action had been for some 
time determined on. Immediately upon the arrival 
of Alvarado, a new expedition had been planned, in 
which Grijalva was not to participate. The latter 
was hurt, almost to death. He had conferred a 
great benefit on this Tiberius of an uncle; but as 
affection is heightened by the conferring of benefits, 
so it is often lessened by the acceptance of them. 
Not long after, Juan de Salcedo was sent to Santo 
Domingo for permission to colonize New Spain, and 
Benito Martin, chaplain and man of business, was 
despatched to Spain 10 with a full account of the dis- 

Laguna de TeYminos, and finding no traces of Grijalva, and having lost his 
anchors, he returned to Matanzas eight days before Grijalva; but in this 
statement he is sustained neither by his contemporaries nor by his own col- 
lateral statements. Velazquez' instructions to Cortes are dated the 23d of 
October, at which time neither Olid nor Grijalva had returned, since Cortes is 
told to search for them ; both arrived, however, before he sailed. 

lu It was in May, 1519, according to Oviedo, that Benito Martin — some 
call him Martinez — sailed for Spain, Grijalva having arrived at Santiago late 
in the October previous. By reference to a Velazquez memorial, in iv. 233-4, 
Col. Doc. Died. , we find that before this, upon the strength of Cordoba's dis- 


co very , and with gold for the bishop of Burgos. Haste 
seemed necessary- to Velazquez lest some one might 
anticipate and rob him of the honors and emoluments 
won through Grijalva's efforts. Nor were forgotten 
the Licentiate Zapata and the Secretary Conchillos; 
and so happily were distributed the Indian villages of 
Cuba among these conscientious men of Spain, that 
Velazquez gained all his requests, with the title of 
adelantado of Cuba added. 

How different the quality of these two men, Velaz- 
quez and Grijalva, and both so widely different from 
the phoenix now about to rise from their ashes ! The 
character of the governor was like a candle flame, hot 
without and hollow within. Almost as much as gold 
lie loved glory, the brass and tinsel of it, but lacked 
both the ability and the courage to achieve noble dis- 
tinction. As easily worked upon by designing men 
as Othello, there was in him none of the nobility of 
the Moor; and, possessing no great integrity himself, 
he was very ready to suspect treachery in others. 

Grijalva, on the other hand, was the Lysander of 
New World discovery; of a modest though manly 
spirit, obedient to customs and superior authority, 
preferring honor and duty to self and pleasure, native 
to generous action, the very faults brought out by his 
enemies shine brilliant as virtues. He was as chival- 
rous as any Spaniard that ever drew steel on naked 
savage, as brave and talented as any. But he lacked 

covery, the king, on the 13th of November, 1518, at Saragossa, made Velazquez 
adelantado of what he had discovered, or might discover. Thus far he claimed 
a3 having found, at his own cost, Cozumel and Yucatan, the Santa Maria de 
los Remedios of the Spaniards, which was not true. Indeed, these memorials 
of the descendants of conquerors are, as a rule, widely different from the 
facts ; instance this one again, which gives Olid seventy men instead of seven. 
As a matter of course, the honor of the discovery is claimed wholly for the 
governor of Cuba, to the prejudice of others who ventured more than he. 
See Carta del Ayunt. de Vera Cruz, in Col. Doc. Ined., i. 418-9. Instance 
further a Memorial del negocio de D. Antonio Velazquez de Basan, in Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. Doe., x. 80-6, in which Grijalva is given five ships and a 
year and a half, and Olid three ships and seventy men. In the Instruction 
r/ue did el adelantado Diego Velazquez d Herman Cortes, in Col. Doc. Ined., xii. 
226-40, the little boat of Olid has grown into a caravel with 80 or 90 men. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 3 


the unscrupulous positiveness inseparable here from 
permanent success. He was resolute in overcoming 
difficulties, and he was strong and shrewd enough in 
the prosecution of any high enterprise, particularly 
so long as fortune favored him; but he was no match 
for the subtle-minded of his own nation, who over- 
whelmed him in their show of learning, backed by 
imposing forms. All contemporary writers speak 
well of him; likewise all the chroniclers, except Go- 
mara, who permits chivalry no place save in his pet 
and patron, Cortes. The soldier Bernal Diaz pro- 
nounces him a most worthy officer. The historians 
Oviedo and Herrera call him a comely man, thor- 
oughly loyal, and never backward at fighting. Yet 
we are told that some censured him, while others 
cursed him outright for his conscientiousness, be- 
cause he did not break orders and seize opportu- 
nity. So ready were they to engage in the fallacious 
argument that it was right to do wrong if good 
might come of it. To disobey Velazquez, they said, 
was to break no divine law; forgetting that the gov- 
ernor derived his authority from the king, and the 
king from the Almighty. Of a truth, when force 
alone is the standard of right, then honesty is not 
the best policy. For a time he carried himself with 
a brave front, conscious of his integrity, yet we may 
say he was laid low forever by the blow misfortune 
here gave him. 11 Meanwhile patience, good gov- 

11 Las Casas saw him at Santo Domingo in 1523. He was reduced to 
penury. Proceeding thence to Panama, he was sent by Pedrarias to Nicaragua, 
where he was killed. So perished the best and morally bravest of cavaliers, 
while unscrupulous tricksters nourished. Prior to hisdeparture from Cuba, 
however, and notwithstanding the vile treatment of the governor, at Velaz- 
quez' request, Grijalva wrote a narrative of his expedition, which was lost by 
Oviedo in its transmission to the king. It is embodied, however, in sub- 
stance, in Oviedo, i. 502-37. One of the most original and complete accounts 
of Grijalva's expedition extant is that by the priest Juan Diaz, Itiuerario 
de Larmata del Re Catho'ico in India verso la Isola de luchathan del anno 
M. D. X VIII, alia qual fn Presidente £ Cajpitan Generale loan de Grisalra; 
el qual e facto per el capellano maggior de dicta Armata a sua Altezza, 
published in Italian, at Venice, in 1520, in French by Ternaux-Compans, in 
1S38, the former being copied and quoted in manuscript by Prescott. The 
issue at Venice was as the second part of the Itinerario de Lvdovico de varihema 
Boiogneat nello Egitto, nella Soria, etc. , and was there begun, Qui comincia lo 


ernor! For soon enough will arise an agent capable 
of playing shrewd tricks to your ample contentment. 

Itinerario de Lisola de Iuchatan nouamente ritrouata per il signor Gioan de 
Gri*alue, etc. By far the best edition is that given with a Spanish transla- 
tion by Icazbalceta, in his Col. Doc, i. 2S1-308, printed in Mexico in 1858. 
Next is the account by Bernal Diaz, who, like the chaplain, accompanied the 
expedition, thus giving us narratives by eye-witnesses at once from ecclesi- 
astical and secular stand-points. The statements of Gomara, Hist. Ind., 56-8, 
and HUt. Mex., 9-11, must be taken with allowance. Worse still are the me- 
morials of the relatives of Velazquez to sovereign majesty, such as that found 
in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, x. 80-6, which are little better than tissues 
of misstatements and exaggerations. Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 24-40, gives a fair, 
full, and graphic statement of particulars. The Instruction que did el ade- 
lantado Diego Velazquez d Her nan Cortes, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, 
xii. 226-51, also important, as furnishing original collateral light. Las Casas, 
Hist. Ind., iv. 16, 421-4, though full, is specially inaccurate and weak, not 
only in his facts, but in his deductions. Nor is Peter Martyr, dec. iv. 
cap. iii., any stronger. Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 4-6, De Rebus Gestis Ferdi- 
nandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 341-6, and Landa, Pel. de Yuc, 
21, are mediocre; and Herrera, dec. ii. lib iii. cap. i. and ix., is quite full 
and very valuable. Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 8-16, gives a fair resume^ 
but a far better one is Torquemada's, i. 351-7. Prescott's account, Mex., 
i. 224-9, is meagre and imperfect, though his deductions are much more 
sound than those of Robertson's Hist. Am., i. 240-3. One of the most super- 
ficial of the modern narratives of this expedition is given by Zamacois, Hist. 
Mej. , ii. 236-52. Those by Morelet, Voy. dans I'Am. Cent., i. 179-85, and Fan- 
court's Hist. Yuc, 9-18, are valuable. A collection of extracts from several 
letters to Charles V., referring to Yucatan, and forming 'an account of a 
recently discovered island, describing its locality, the customs and habits of its 
inhabitants, ' was printed at Nuremberg, by Frederick Peypus, in 1520, un- 
der title beginning Ein auszug ettlicher sendbrieff dem alter durchleiichtigisten. 
Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., i. 51-65, ii. 21, and Ramirez, in his Mexican 
edition of Prescott, i. 132 and 135, beside narratives, give portraits of Ve- 
lazquez, C6rdoba, and Grijalva. Sahagun, Hist. Conq. 13-9, and Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 27-50, are most valuable from an aboriginal 
stand-point. Alaman, in his Disert., i. 49-91, treats of both C6rdoba'sand Gri- 
jalva's voyages. Among the many allusions to these two expeditions of no 
special significance are those found in Ogilby's Am., 76-8; Purchas, His Pil- 
grimeSj v. 858; Oveido, Sommario, in Ramusio, Viaggi, iii. 182-9; Soc Mex. 
<r> <■"!/., Boletin, iii. 242-3; Robertson's Visit Mex., i. 143; Voy., Cur. and Ent., 
471-9; World Displayed, i. 166-79; Voy., A New Col., i. 189-98; Sammlung 
oiler Reisebe.sch., xiii. 254-64; Laharpe, Abrege, ix. 219-31; Kerr's Voy., ii. 
70-1, and iii. 416-53; Klemm, Allgemeine Cidturgeschichte, 219; Cordua, Scheeps- 
Togt, 3-18, and 35-89, in Aa, Naankeurige Versa.meling, Montauus, Nieutce 
Weereld, 72-5; Gottfried, Reysen, iii. ; Folsom, in Cortes' Despatches, 6-8; Howitt's 
Hist. U. S., i. 8-9; Lardner's Hist. Discov., ii. 43-4; Span. Conq. in Am., ii. 
3-9; Vctancvrt, Teatro Mex., pt. iii., 106-9; Larenaudicre, Mex. et Gnat., 
53-4; Calle, Mem. y Not., 81-2; Mayer's Mex. Aztec, i. 14-15 j Hassrf, Mex. 
Gnat., 6; Holmes' An. Am,., i. 35-7; Galvano's Discov., 130-2; Corradi r Descub. 
de la Am., ii. 7-19; Da/ton's Conq. Mex. and Pern, 47-9; Span. Emp. in Am., 
27-8; Snowden's Am., 77-9; Raynal, Hist. Phil., iii. 246-7; Description de Am . , 
MS., 112-13; Gordon's Hist. Am., 112-13; Ma/te-Brun, Yucatan, 23-4; Wil- 
son's Conq. Mex., 291; Castellanos, Varones (lustres de Indicts, 71; Peter Mar- 
tyr, dec. iv., cap. i.-v., Dvfey, Resume, i. 97-103; Manor's Hist., xxiv. 65-6; 
Gregory's Hist. Mex., 19-20; Norman's Rambles, 95; Wilson's Mex. and Reg., 
18; Cotton's Jour. Geog., No. vi. 84; Newe Zeittung von Jucatan, 1, etc.; Mon- 
glave, Resume, 41-6; March y Laborcs, Marina Espanola, i. 463-4; Cortesii, 
von dem Neuen Hisp., pt. ii. 2-5; Morelli, Fasti Novi Orbis, 16; Armin, Alte 


Before the return of Grijalva, interest in the new 
expedition had already raised itself into a whirl of 
excitement; and as volunteers pressed forward, the 
captaincy became an apple of discord among aspirants. 
Chief among these were Vasco Porcallo a near rela- 
tive of the count of Feria, Antonio Velazquez/ 2 and 
Bernardino Velazquez, the last two kinsmen of the 
governor. Another was Baltasar Bermudez, 13 from 
Velazquez' own town, and his intimate friend. None 
of these suited. Then followed for the governor nights 
of troubled dreams and days of irritable indecision. 
It was a peculiar personage Velazquez wanted. He 
must be, in Mexico, courageous, wise, and prudent ; in 
Cuba, obedient, teachable. He must be able to com- 
mand men, to brave the proudest barbarian, and so 
fired by enthusiasm in the field as cheerfully to endure 
hardships and risk life; his work successfully accom- 
plished, he must return humbly to Santiago, and lay 
his trophies at the feet of his master. Grijalva was 
most nearly such a man; but he lacked that subtle 
second sense which should tell him when it was the 
governor's pleasure to have his orders disobeyed. Por- 
callo was competent, but Velazquez was afraid of him. 
He was scarcely farther from the throne than himself; 
and in reporting any important conquest to the king 
would prove the greater of the two. The relatives 
present were worse, if anything, than Grijalva; be- 
sides, they had no means, and to this position the suc- 
cessful aspirant must bring money as well as courage 
and discretion. Bermudez might be eligible, but for 
his services, in braving the dangers, and bringing the 
results of the expedition to Velazquez, he had the 

Mex., 77-8; Touron, Hist. Gen. Am., iii. 58-78; Bussierre, V Empire Mex., 
193-9; Sandoval, Hist. Carlos V., i. 161-2; Cortes, Hist. Mex., 30-110; Campe, 
Hint. Desrub. Am., ii. 7-19; Cortes, Aven. y Conq., 12-13; Stephens' Incid. of 
Travel in Yuc., ii. 366-9; Drake's Voy., 161-3; Hart's Tabasco, 4-5; La Cruz, 
v. 541-4; Nouvelles An. des Voy., xcvii. 30--1, and clxiv. 101; and Manzi, Conq. 
di Mess., 1-3. 

12 Called Borrego, says Torquemada, i. 361. Bernal Diaz gives Bon-ego as 
the second surname. 

13 Bernal Diaz says Augustin Bermudez. 


temerity to demand three thousand ducats. The 
proposition was not for a moment to be entertained; 
the job must be accomplished for less money. 

Watchful eyes saw the governor's dilemma, and 
artful tongues wagged opportunely. Near to him in 
their daily vocations were two men, both small in 
stature, but large of head, and broad in experience and 
sagacity. One was the governor's secretary, Andres 
de Duero, and the other the royal contador, Amador 
de Lares. Both possessed rare attainments; they 
were skilled in every artifice, and could make their 
master see white or black; while Lares could not 
write, he had not failed to profit by a twenty -two 
years' career in Italy, during which time he rose to 
the honorable distinction of chief butler to the Gran 
Capitan, and he seldom found it difficult to move the 
unstable Velazquez to his purposes, although they 
were not always the purest and best. 14 Following the 
example of the governor, these two worthies were 
not averse to improving their fortunes by securing, at 
little risk or expense, an interest in the New Spain 
conquest; and so they gave heed when the alcalde of 
Santiago softly insinuated that he was the man for 
the emergency, and that if they would help him to 
the command they should share the profits. 15 

The alcalde of Santiago bore a fair reputation, con- 
sidering the time and place; for comparatively few 
names in the New World were then wholly free from 
taint. In the prime of manhood, his age being thirty- 
three, of full medium stature, well proportioned and 
muscular, with full breast, broad shoulders, square full 
forehead, small straight spare compact body and well 

14 Las Casas regarded him as a schemer, and often warned Velazquez 
against ' Veintidos afios de Italia.' Hist. lad., iv. 447. He calls him like- 
wise ' Burgales' and ' homhre astutisimo.' 

15 'Que partirian,' says Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 13, ' entre todos tres 
la ganancia del oro, y plata, y joyas, de la parte que le cupiesse a Cortes,' 
and also, growls Las Casas, ubi supra — knowledge of the facts as yet being 
but rumor — what Cort6s could steal from the king and the governor was sub- 
ject to division, beside what he would rob from the natives. 


turned limbs, though somewhat bow-legged, he pre- 
sented a pleasing rather than imposing front. His 
portraits show fine antique features, bearing a some- 
what sad expression, which was increased by the 
grave tenderness of the dark oval eyes. The full 
though thin beard, cut short, counteracted to some 
extent the effect of the small ash-colored face, and 
served to cover a deep scar on the lower lip, the 
memento of a duel fought in behalf of a certain frail 
fair one. 

He was an exceedingly popular alcalde; there was 
nothing staid or sombre in his method of administer- 
ing justice. The law was less to him than expedi- 
ency, and his standard of right was easily shifted, 
according to circumstances. In wit and vivacity he 
was a Mercutio. Astute of intellect, discreet, of a 
cheerful, even jovial disposition, with brilliant intui- 
tions and effervescent animal spirits, he knew how to 
please, how to treat every man as best he liked to be 
treated. A cavalier of the Ojeda and Balboa type, 
he was superior to either. He would not, like the 
former, woo danger for the mere pleasure of it, nor, 
like the latter, tamely trust his forfeited head to any 
governor. Life was of value to him; yet adventure 
was the rhythm of it, and the greater the peril the 
greater the harmony secured. An hidalgo of respect- 
able antecedents, whatever he might have been, or 
might be, he now played the part of magistrate to 
perfection. As a matter of course, he was in entire 
sympathy with the religious views of the day, as well 
as with the leading men among the clergy. Indeed 
the friars ever praised him, believing him to be a 
zealous and conscientious man; he made it a point 
that they should. The moral ideal of the Japanese 
is politeness. Politeness is virtue. They do not 
say that lying and stealing are wrong, but impo- 
lite. While the alcalde if pressed must confess 
himself an optimist, believing that whatever is, is 
best, yet in practice that best he would better, and 


whatsoever his strength permitted, it was right for 
him to do. He was a sort of Mephistopheles, decked 
in manners and guided by knowledge. Besides the 
world, he knew books, and how to make somewhat of 
them. Earnestly devoted to the service of the church, 
many of his acts yet met with its most unqualified 
condemnation. Possessed of vehement aspirations, his 
ambition was of the aggressive kind; not like that of 
Velazquez, mercenary and timid. Like Tigellinus 
Sophonius, it was to his pleasing person and unscru- 
pulous character that the alcalde owed his rise from 
poverty and obscurity; and now, like Phaethon, if 
for one day he might drive the governor's sun-chariot 
across the heavens, it would be his own fault if he 
were not a made man. This much at this time we 
may say of Hernan 16 Cortes, for such was the al- 
calde's name; which is more than he could say for 
himself, not knowing himself as we kn6w him, and 
more than his associates could say of him. Here- 
after as his character develops we shall become further 
acquainted with him. It is as difficult to detect the 
full-grown plant in a seed as in a stone, and yet the 
seed will become a great tree, while the stone remains 
a stone. 

And so, with the aid of his loving friends Duero 
and Lares, whose deft advice worked successfully on 
the plastic mind of Velazquez, and because he pos- 
sessed some money and many friends, as well as 
courage and wisdom, the alcalde of Santiago was 
proclaimed captain-general of the expedition. 17 And 

16 Hernan, Hernando, Fernan, Fernando, Ferdinando. The names are one. 
With no special preference, I employ the first, used by the best writers. 
Among the early authorities, Solis, the Spanish translator of De Rebus Geatis 
Ferdinandi Cortesii, and many others, write Hernan; Pizarro y Orellana, 
Varones Ilvstres, Fernan; Bernal Diaz and Oviedo, Hernando; Gomara, Fer- 
nando. In accordance with the Spanish usage of adding the mother's surname, 
he is sometimes, though rarely, called Cortes y Pizarro. For portrait and 
signature I refer the reader to Alaman, Divert., i. app. i. 15-16 ; portrait as an 
old man; Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 6-8; PrescoWs Mex., iii. 1; Id., (ed. 
Mex., 1846, iii. 210-11); Arrnin Alte Mex., 82, plate from the painting in the 
Concepcion Hospital at Mexico ; March y Labores, Marina Espailola, i. 466. 
17 In making out the commission Duero stretched every point in favor of 
his friend, naming him captain-general of lands discovered and to be dis- 


now, while the heathen wail let the Spaniards rejoice. 
Yes. Noble Castilian! cry aloud! for gold shall fill 
the coffers of your king as they were never filled 
before, and great shall be the glory of your kingdom; 
and if the sight of the blood your captains shall draw 
from the hapless savages, even more freely than gold 
is drawn, does not spoil your appetite for the game, 
then whet your swords for the grand pacification. 

covered, as well as of the fleet. Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 47; for the greater the 
share of Cortes, the greater Duero's share. C4omara says, Hist. Mex., 12, 
1 Hablo a Fernado Cortes para q armassean ambos a medias, porq tenia dos mil 
Castellanos de oro,' etc.; but 2000 castellanos alone would not purchase a haif 
interest in this undertaking. Las Casas, loc. cit. , states that Velazquez, for 
reasons that will appear in the next chapter, was very cautious in intercourse 
with Cortes until his scruples were overcome by advisers. 



Birthplace of Hernan Cortes — His Coming Compensatory for the Devil- 
sent Luther — Parentage — Hernan a Sickly Child — Saint Peter 
his Patron — He is Sent to Salamanca — Returns Home — Thinks of 
Cordoba and Italy — And of Ovando and the Indies — Chooses the 
Latter — Narrow Escape during a Love Intrigue — Ovando Sails 
without Him — Cortes Goes to Valencia — Is there III — Returns 
Home — Finally Sails for the Indies— His Reception at Santo 
Domingo — He Fights Indians under Velazquez, and is Given an 
Encomienda — Goes to Cuba with Velazquez; — Makes Love to Cata- 
lina suarez — but declines to marry — velazquez insists — cortes 
Rebels — Seizures, Imprisonments, Escapes, and Reconciliation. 

Let us now look into the life of this Cuban maofis- 
trate, so suddenly raised to prominence. 

Medellin, a small town of Estremadura, Spain, was 
the birthplace of Hernan Cortes, and 1485 the year 
in which he was born — miraculously born, as Men- 
dieta and others believe, and perhaps by way of com- 
pensation for the appearing about this time of Martin 
Luther. 1 The shade of Montezuma, peradventure, 

1 Indeed, to make the miracle perfect in all its details, a little warping of 
the facts is perhaps allowable. So when the zealous chroniclers bring into 
the world the same year, the same day, even the self-same hour, these two 
great champions for the souls of men, we should not be too critical, though 
in truth there were two years difference in their ages. ' Y asi, no carece de 
misterio que el mismo ano que Lutero nacio en Islebio,' that is to say Eisleben, 
' villa de Sajonia, nacio Hernando Cortes en Medellin, villa de Espafia; aquel 
para turbar el mundo y meter debajo de la bandera del demonio a muchos de 
los iieles que de padres y abueios y muchos tiempos atras eran cat61icos, y este 
para traer al gremio de la Iglesia infinite multitud de gentes que porahos sin 
cuento habian estado debajo del poder de Satanas envueitos en vicios y ciegos 
con la idolatria.' Mendieta, Hist. Ed ex., 174-5. Pizarro y Orellana will not 
be outdone by any one in zeal or mendacity. ' Nacio este llustre Varon el 
dia mismo que aquella bestia infernal, el Perhdo Heresiarea Lutero, salio 
al mundo. ' Varones llvstres, 06. Bernal Diaz is the first authority on the ques- 
tion of age. 'En el ano que passamos con Cort6s dende Cuba,' he writes 



might deny that his was the advent of a new Messiah, 
though the deluded monarch, at the first, sorrowfully 
hailed him as such. The father, Martin Cortes y 
Monroy, was of that poor but prolific class who filled 
Spain toward the close of the Moorish wars, and 
who, although nothing in particular, were neverthe- 
less permitted to call themselves hidalgos, sons of 
something. Some give him the title of escudero, 
others place him still higher in the scale of fighting 
men. The mother, Catalina Pizarro y Altamirano, 
likewise, with poverty, claimed noble blood. 2 

Hernan was a sickly child, and probably would 
have died had not his good nurse, Maria de Estevan, 

Hist. Verdad., 238, 'a la Nueva Espafia, fue el de quinientos y diez y nueue 
aiios, y entonces solia dezir estando en conversacion de todos nosotros los com- 
paileros que con 6\ passamos, que auia treynta y quatro aiios, y veynte y ocho 
que auian passado hasta que murio, que son sesenta y dos aiios. ' While agree- 
ing with Bernal Diaz in the date of Cortes' death, December 2, 1547, Gomara 
says he was then sixty-three. From his false premise Mendieta elaborates a 
comparison between Luther and Cortes, dwelling with pious pathos on the 
holocaust of human victims offered up at the consecration of the great Aztec 
temple at Mexico, which deed, he coolly states, was committed on the day 
Cortes was born. For the facts, see Bancroft's Native Races, v. 5, 439-40. 
Without taking the trouble to test Mendieta's statement, Torquemada, i. 340-1, 
carries the miraculous still further. Following the heaven-descended Cortes 
in his piratical raid on Mexico, he sees the hand of God in the finding of 
Aguilar, who, like Aaron, was to be the mouthpiece of his chief, in the alli- 
ances with native states, and in the great victories and hair-breadth escapes 
of the conqueror, fighting under the banner of the cross. 

2 According to the Testimonio de Hidalguia de Cortes, in Col. Doc. Incd., 
iv. 23S-9, the names of the mother's parents were Diego Altamirano and Leonor 
Sanchez Pizarro, which would reverse her surnames, and make the son a Cortes 
y Altamirano. But Gomara, De Rebus Gestls Ferdinandi Cortesii, and other 
authorities, do not accept this form. This important document, however, the 
Testimonio, establishes the fact that both parents were hidalgos, 'gozando 
de los oficios que gozan los hijosdalgo en . . . Medellin.' Some historians strain 
themselves to make Cortes the scion of a Roman family, or even of a king of 
Lombardy and Tuscany, whose descendants entered Spain during Gothic 
rule. Those who have tastes in that direction may consult Siculus, Viris 
II lust., 141; Anodes de Ararjon, iii. xiv. ; Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 
67. Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 11, who claimed acquaintance with the family, 
slurs their pretensions to high origin. 'Ambos hijosdalgo sin raca' is the 
qualification in Sandoval, Hist. Carlos V., i. 160. No doubt the parents of 
Cortes were respectable and amiable people, but to attempt to make of them 
other than they were is folly. ' Catharinia namque probitate, pudicitia. et in 
conjugem amore, nulli retatis suae feminae cessit. ' De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi 
Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 310-11. This document refers to Martin 
Cortes as 'levis armaturae equitum quinquaginta dux fuerit,' on which evi- 
dence Prescott makes the man a captain when he is only a lieutenant, which 
yet more clearly appears by Gomara, who states, Hist. Mex., 4, that he was 
a ' teniente de vna compaiiia de Ginetes.' 


secured in his behalf Saint Peter, thenceforth his 
patron. 3 With his mother's milk he drank courage 4 
and intelligence, and he was schooled in the virtues 
and the vices of the day. In his youth he was head- 
strong, but chivalrous, and he revelled in his supe- 
riority over other boys. The brain-ferment, chronic 
throughout his life, set in at an early day. He was 
keenly sensitive to disgrace. As he developed some- 
what of archness and duplicity, he was deemed best 
fitted for the profession of the law. At the age of 
fourteen, accordingly, with such preparation as the 
slender means of the father would allow, he was sent 
to Salamanca, whose university, though past the 
zenith of its fame, was still the leading seat of learn- 
ing for conservative Spain. Two years of restraint 
and intellectual drudgery, during which time he lived 
with his father's brother-in-law, Nunez de Valera, 
sufficed to send him home surfeited with' learning, to 
the great disappointment of his family. 5 A frolicsome 
and somewhat turbulent disposition, more marked 
since his college career than previously, made his re- 
turn all the more unwelcome. Not that his studies, 

3 The nurse was a ' vezina de Oliua,' and her method of choosing a patron 
was characteristic of the times. ' La deuocion fue echar en suertes los doze 
apostoles, y darle por auogado el postrero q ssliesse, y salio san Pedro. En 
cuyo nobre se dixeron ciertas missas y oraciones, con las quales plugo a Dios 
q sanasse.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 4. 

4 And Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 66-69, indulges in a lengthy 
dissertation upon the effect of mothers' milk on heroes. ' Criole a sus pechos 
Dona Catalina Pizarro su madre : y a la generosidad deste lacticinio atribuye 
Marineo e SicuJo su gran valor, y virtud. ' 

5 Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 67, states that he was supported at 
college by Monroy and Rodriguez. It is possible that his proud spirit chafed 
under this dependence, or that he felt too deeply his position as a poor student 
among the wealthy youth there congregated; or that this aid was withdrawn 
owing to the turbulent character here developed by the young man. These 
views find support in Gomara, Hist. Mex., 4: ' Boluiose a Medellin, harto o 
arrepentido de estudiar, o quica falto de dineros. ' While admitting the want 
both of money and inclination for study, Torquemada, i. 345, states that a 
quartan fever came on as he was preparing for the study of law, and was the 
chief cause of his leaving the college. Las Casas, Hist. Intl., iv. 11, gives him 
the honors of a bachiller, and as having studied law, both of which statements 
are unlikely, considering his short course. 'Aprendiendo gramatica' implies a 
course of study in Latin and Greek, as well as rhetoric, which it required 
three years to complete. Plan de Estudios de la, Universidad de Salamanca, 
quoted by Folsom, in Cortes'' Despatches, 10. According to Peralta, ' asento 
con un escribano, . . . . y aprendio a escrebir, ' etc. in Valladolid. Not. Hist. , 56. 


despite his aversion to them, had been wholly ne- 
glected; he could boast a smatter of Latin, which 
indeed proved of advantage afterward, giving him in- 
fluence over many of those with whom he associated. 
He had also acquired some knowledge of rhetoric, as 
is manifest in his letters and occasional verses. 6 At 
present, however, his intellectual talents were em- 
ployed only in scribbling rhymes in aid of amorous 
intrigues, which were now his chief pursuit. Hence 
when arms possessed his fancy the parents did not 
repine, but were only too glad for him to enter ser- 
vice, as he seemed inclined, under the Gran Capitan, 
who was just then alluring to his standard the chiv- 
alry of Spain by brilliant achievements in Italy. 
There was, however, the glitter of gold in the Indies, 
and the appointment of Nicolas de Ovando, 7 as gov- 
ernor, turned the youth's vacillating mind in that 

Cortes had concluded to accompany the new gov- 
ernor, when one night, just before the sailing of the 
fleet, an accident intervened. While engaged in one 
of his intrigues he had occasion to climb a courtyard 
wall to gain the lady's apartment. The wall crum- 
bling beneath his weight threw him to the ground, 
and the noise brought to the door of an adjoining 
house a blustering Benedick, who, perceiving the sit- 
uation of the gallant, and suspecting his own newly 
made wife, drew the sword with bloody intent. At 
the prayer of the suspected wife's mother, however, 
the husband suspended vengeance. Before the scape- 
grace recovered from a fever brought on by the 
bruises received in this fall, the fleet of Ovando had 

6 Verses which were tolerably good, and even procured him some fame. 
Anales, 220. ' Quando hablaua con Letrados, y hombres Latinos, respondia a 
lo que le dezian en Latin.' Bernal Diaz, H'ist. VerdacL, 238. The combined 
qualities of scholar and general have called up a not inappropriate comparison 
between Cortes and Caesar. See Helps Span. Conq., and other authorities. 

7 Some claim him for a relative of Cortes. See Pizarro y Oretlana, Varones 
Ilvstres, 70; Soils, Hist. 3Iex., i. 45; De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in 
Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 312. 


After this, Cortes thought again of Italy, and went 
to Valencia to place himself under Cordoba, but once 
more illness overtook him, this time accompanied by 
destitution, and he returned to Medellin somewhat 
sobered. 8 Thus another year was idled away; but 
notwithstanding his follies, the youthful cavalier, who 
was now nineteen, displayed many fine qualities. As 
he approached manhood his health improved, and form 
and features became more pleasing. Though proud in 
his bearing, and of quick perceptions, and high-spirited 
in temper, he sought to school his tongue, and to 
practise discretion in the use of his sword. Native to 
him were generosity and amiability. The qualities of 
his heart were noble ; the vices were those of his time 
and station. Yet he lacked the moral fibre which 
should be interwoven with the good impulses of every 
rich, sensitive nature, and this want could not be 
made up by repeating prayers and singing psalms, 
wherein Gomara describes him as efficient. 

The pinching economy to which Cortes was reduced 
made his present frequent visions of the Indies appear 
only the brighter; and when, in 1504, a fleet of five 
ships was announced to sail for Espafiola, he deter- 
mined to delay no longer. With little else than his 
father's blessing he proceeded to Seville, and took 
passage with Alonso Quintero, master of one of the 
vessels, who fancied himself shrewder than other men, 
and shrewder than he was. Thinking to overreach 
his brother captains in whose company he sailed, and 
to secure at Espafiola the first market for his merchan- 
dise, he stole forth one night from the Canary Isles, 
where the squadron had touched for supplies. A gale 
dismasted his vessel on reaching the open sea, and 
sent him back to port. The others agreed to await 
his repairs, which generosity Quintero repaid by seek- 
ing a second time to take advantage of them by going 

8 ' Anduvo se a la flor del berro, aun q no sin trabajos y necessidades 
cercade vn afio.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 5. 'Squandered his means at Valencia 
with bad companions, ' is the term used in Sandoval, Hist. Carlos, i. 161. 


before, and his treachery was a second time punished 
by the winds, aided, indeed, by the pilot, who was at 
enmity with the captain, and who threw the ship from 
her course during the night so that the reckoning was 
lost. The usual sufferings are related; and, in answer 
to prayer, we are told of a miraculous interposition. 
On Good Friday, when all hope had been abandoned, 
there was seen poised above the ship a dove, which 
presently dropped down and rested on the mast. 9 How- 
ever this might have been, we are credibly informed 
that the wind subsided and the ship proceeded on her 
voyage. Finally, on reaching his destination, Quintero 
found the other ships snugly riding at anchor, their 
cargoes having been profitably disposed of several 
days before. 

The governor being absent, his secretary, Medina, 
received Cortes kindly, and pointed him the common 
highway to fortune. "Register yourself a citizen," he 
said. " Promise not to leave the island for five years, 
and you shall have lands and Indians; after the ex- 
piration of your time you may go where you choose." 
Cortes answered: "I want gold, not work; and neither 
in this island nor in any other place will I promise to 
remain so long." He thought better of it, however, 
and on the return of Ovanclo he presented himself, 
and was induced to settle. Not lonsc after an Indian 
revolt called Diego Velazquez, lieutenant of Ovando, 
into the field, and Cortes hastened to join the expedi- 
tion. The coolness and ability displayed in this short 
campaign won for him the admiration and esteem 
alike of chief and comrades. 10 His reward was an en- 
comienda of Indians in the Daiguao country, together 
with the nota^ship of the new town of Azua. For 
the next six years he was occupied in husbandry and 

9 Torquemada, i. 346, sees in the bird a messenger from God to conduct 
safely his chosen instrument for converting the natives of the New World. 
Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 69-70, recognizes the Holy Ghost, who 
assumed this form, and comments on similar appearances elsewhere. How 
goodly a thing is faith ! 

10 He assisted in the pacification of Higne, Bauruco, Daiguao, Iutagna, 
Jaragua, and Amguayagua. CorUs, Memorial, in Col. Doc. hied., iv. 220. 


in official pursuits, varied by military exploits and love 
intrigues which kept his sword from rusting and gave 
him wounds which he carried through life. An ab- 
scess under the right knee, a most lucky affliction, 
alone prevented his joining the ill-fated expedition of 
Nicuesa to Veragua. 11 

On assuming the direction of New World affairs as 
governor, in place of Ovando, Diego Colon in 1511 
fitted out an expedition against Cuba, and gave the 
command to Velazquez, who appointed Cortes his 
adviser and executive officer, 12 a position which the 
latter gladly accepted, deprived as he was of his patron 
Ovando, and heartily tired of the monotony of Es- 
panola. Still hidden beneath a careless exterior were 
the deeper qualities of his nature, and there were yet 
six other years, and more of ordinary business and 
pleasure, before the appearance of earnest thought or 
great self-reliance. 13 Meanwhile Spanish 'women were 
not numerous in the Indies, and rivalry for their 
favors was great. Cortes had escaped with light 

11 The author of De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii directs this expedition 
to Cuba, after delaying it three months in the hope of securing the services 
of Cortes, in both of which statements he is in error. Icazbalceta, Col. Doc. , 
i. 318-19. 

12 'Socium et ministrum consiliorum omnium adsumit.' De Rebus Gestis 
Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Iccvzbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 320. So highly did Velazquez 
esteem the qualities of his friend, ' diu multumque Cortesium rogat, ut secum 
eat: maria ac montes pollicetur, si operam ad id bellum polliceatur. ' /(/., 
319. Las Casas, who knew Cortes at a later time, makes him one of the two 
secretaries of Velazquez, the other being Andres de Duero ; and this would 
coincide with the above. Las Casas is too inconsistent to be very reliable. 
On the same page he refers to Cortes as a prudent, reticent man, and also as 
a prater not to be trusted with secrets; useful to Velazquez only for his 
knowledge of Latin. Hist. Ind., iv. 10-11. Herrera, dec. i., lib. ix., cap. viii., 
follows Las Casas. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 6, calls him 'oficial del tesorero 
Miguel de Passamote, para tener cueta co los quintos y hazienda del rey, y 
aun el mesmo Diego Velazquez se lo rogo, por ser habil y diligente. ' Gomara 
may have had his reasons for not connecting him too closely with his later 
enemy, but he admits on this and on the following page that Velazquez in- 
trusted him with business affairs of his own, which he was afterward charged 
with having divulged. Among these duties was superintending the con- 
struction of a mint and hospital. The position of clerk to a treasurer would 
of course be inferior to that of secretary to the chief of the expedition ; yet 
if the treasurer was as illiterate as Contador Lares, his clerk would rank 
rather as deputy. 

13 ' Era muy resabido y recatado,' says Las Casas, 'puesto que no 
mostraba saber tanto, ni ser de tanta habilidad como despues lo mostro en 
cosas arduas.' 


punishment many gallantries, but he had not been 
settled long in Cuba before he found a more serious 
case upon his hands. 

Among those who had settled in Cuba was a family 
from Granada, Suarez by name, consisting of a widow, 
her son Juan, and three daughters, remarkable for their 
beauty. They had come with the vireyna Maria de 
Toledo, and Gomara is so ungallant as to say that their 
object was to secure rich husbands. 14 Scores of hearts 
are laid at their feet, but the marriage obligation is 
evaded by the more promising men of the colony, for 
the Suarez family has a somewhat clouded reputation. 
In one of them Velazquez takes a tender interest; 
some say he marries her. 15 Cortes fancies another; 
Catalina is her name; he trifles with her affections, 
obtains her favors, promises her marriage, and then 
seeks to evade the issue. The brother petitions the 
virtuous governor, who cannot see the sister of his 
love thus wronged. Velazquez orders Cortes to marry 
Catalina. The cavalier refuses. Enmity arises be- 
tween the two men, and without difficulty Cortes is 
persuaded by certain disaffected to join a cabal against 
the governor. Nocturnal meetings are held at the 
house of Cortes; and when it is determined to lay 
their fancied grievances before the authorities at Santo 

u The deceased head of the family bore the name of Diego Suarez Pa- 
checo, the mother that of Maria de Marcaida, also wrongly written Mercaida. 
The son, Juan Suarez, the partner of Cortes in the Cuban encomienda, after- 
ward settled in Mexico. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 12-13. See also Proceso 
de Marcayda, in Cortes, Residencia, ii. 333. Peralta, the son of Juan, gives 
the family a genealogy of high order. Not. Hist. , 57. ' Suarez .... gente pobre. ' 
Las Casus, Hist, bid., iv. 13. ' Doha Catalina Suarez Pacheco (the daughter), 
doncella noble y recatada. ' Solis, Hist. Mex. , i. 46, and Pizarro y Orellana, 
Varones Ilvstres, 70, also write Suarez, Herrera and Gomara, Xuarez. The lat- 
ter says three or four daughters, Hist. Mex., 7, but it seems that there were 
four children in all. Those who write the more common form of Suarez are 
more explicit, and deserve at least equal credit with Gomara. 

15 Velazquez was married not long after his arrival in Cuba to the daughter 
of Contador Cuellar. The bride died within the same week. Herrera, dec. 
i. lib. ix. cap. ix. ' Velazquez fauorecia la por amor de otra su hermana, q 
tenia ruin fama, y aun el era demasiado mugeril.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 
7. Delaporte, Reisen, x. 141-2, assumes that Cortes won the love of her whom 
Velazquez wished to possess ; while Gordon, Arte. Mex., ii. 32, supposes that 
the bride had been the object of Velazquez' gallantry ; hence the trouble. 
Folsom, on the other hand, marries one of the Suarez sisters to Velazquez, 
and calls him the brother-in-law of Cortes. Cortes, Despatches, 9, 11-12. 


Domingo, Cortes is chosen bearer of the complaints. 16 
As he is about to embark on his perilous mission, to 
traverse in an open boat eighteen leagues of open 
ocean, the governor hears of it, seizes the envoy, and 
sends him in chains to the fortress. His partisans 
are likewise imprisoned, and active in preferring 
charges against them are Bermudez, the two Velaz- 
quez, Villegas, and Juan Suarez. Friends intercede 
and prevent immediate hanging. 17 Cortes resolves on 
escape. With some difficulty he extricates himself 
from his fetters, seizes the sword of the sleeping 
guard, forces the window, and dropping to the ground 
takes refuge in the church. 18 Velazquez, enraged at 
the escape, yet not daring to violate the privilege of 
sanctuary, resorts to artifice. Introducing some sol- 
diers into the chapel through a small door in the 
rear, the blushing Catalina is stationed at a distance 
before the sacred edifice as a decoy. The lover sees 
her; the dear girl wishes to speak with him, but 
her maidenly modesty forbids her nearer approach. 
Cortes rushes forward to clasp her in his arms, only 
to be seized from behind, and placed under a strong 
guard in the hold of a vessel bound for Espafiola, 
where, in company with the other conspirators, he is 
to undergo trial. 19 

1C Gomara, Hist. Mex., 7, insists that Velazquez had no motive for 
anger except the refusal of Cortes to marry. The meeting of conspirators 
at his house gave plausibility to the charges of his enemies. By others 
it is even stated that at these meetings Cortes defended the governor 
against the charges of the conspirators and overruled their plots. De Rebus 
Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbafceta, Col. Doc, i. 325-6. The prepon- 
derance of evidence, however, is against this supposition. 

17 ' Estando para se embarcar en una canoa de indios con sus papeles, fue 
Diego Velazquez avisado y hozolo prender y quisola ahorcar.' Las Casus, Hist. 
Ind. , iv. 1 1 . He was cast in the fort prison, lest the army should proclaim him 
general. ' Timebat ne si quis,' etc. J Je Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in 
lcazbalceta, Col. Doc., i. 325 and 326-7. 

1B In De, Reims Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in lcazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 326-7, 
it is related that Cort6s broke the ropes holding him by means of a stick, and 
filed the padlock of the chains. Seizing a bludgeon he advanced on the sleep- 
ing jailer, resolved to break his head if he moved. But Cristobal de Lagos 
either slept or pretended not to hear the noise as Cortes seized the sword 
and shield at his head. Swinging open a small window, Cortes slid down 
and hurried to the sanctuary, giving on the way a word of cheer and advice 
"^o the conspirators who were held within the prison. 

1JB ' Cortes .... tuuo por cierto q lo embiaria a santo Domingo o a Espana. ' 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 4 


Sympathy for Cortes increases with his misfortunes, 
and aid is furnished for a second escape. The shackles 
are removed, and exchanging clothes with an attend- 
ant, he mounts the upper deck, 20 strolls carelessly about 
watching his opportunity until he gains the skiff; then 
cutting loose the boat of another vessel near by, to pre- 
vent pursuit, he pulls lustily toward Baracoa. The 
boat becomes unmanageable, he plunges into the water, 
swims ashore, and once more gains the sanctuary. 21 

Cortes was sensible enough now to perceive that 
he had involved himself more deeply than a trifling 
love affair would justify, and that possibly he might 
best rid himself of the charming Catalina by marry- 
ing her. Once determined on this course, he called 
to him the brother, Juan Suarez, and informed him of 
his doleful resolve. Meanwhile the constant impor- 
tunities of powerful friends, and the need of Cortes' 
services in an Indian outbreak, induced Velazquez to 
make overtures of reconciliation; but Cortes met him 

Gomara, Hist. Mcx., 7. There would have been no reasons for his fears on 
this score, if he possessed papers implicating Velazquez, as Gomara states. 
Another version is that the alcaldes imposed a heavy sentence on Cortes, 
after his capture, and that Velazquez, on being appealed to by Duero and 
others, was noble-minded enough to grant a pardon. He discharged him from 
his service, however, and had him placed on board a ship for Espaiiola. 
Torquemada, i. 348. Herrera says that Catalina lived near the church, and 
while Cortes was making love to her an alguacil named Juan Escudero, whom 
Cortes afterward hanged in Mexico, came up behind him and pinioned his 
arms, while the soldiers rushed to his assistance. Dec. i. lib. ix. cap. ix. ; Cortes, 
Residential, i. 63, etc. Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 11; De Rebus Gestis Fer- 
dinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, i. 327-8, give minutely the mode of capture. 

20 Broke the pump and crawled through, ' Organum pneumaticum,' etc. 
He Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 329. 

21 The current of the Macaguanigua River did not allow him to enter it, 
and elsewhere the breakers would upset the boat. Stripping himself, he tied 
to his head certain documents against Velazquez, held by him as notary of the 
ayuntamiento and clerk of the treasurer, and thereupon swam ashore. He 
entered his house, consulted with Juan Suarez, and reentered the temple, 
armed. Gomara, Hist. Ilex., 7. De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in 
Icazbalceta, vi. 329-30, refers to a friend of Cortes chained in the same ship's 
hold, and states that Cortes rowed ashore. On the way to the house of 
Suarez he narrowly escapes a patrol. Having secured arms, he proceeds to 
cheer Ins captive partisans, and then enters the sanctuary. At dawn the cap- 
tain of the vessel from which Cortes escaped comes also to the temple, to secure 
himself against Velazquez' wrath, no doubt, but is refused admission into 
the sacristy by his fellow-refugee, who suspects the man, and fears that the 
provisions may not outlast the siege. In Herrera, dec. i. lib. ix. cap. viii., 
Cortes drifts about on a log and is finally cast ashore. 


in a haughty spirit, and surrounding the church with 
a guard he went his way to the wars. Notwith- 
standing the cavalier had made up his mind to drink 
the marriage-draught, he would none of the governor 
in it; or if he must, the reconciliation should be ac- 
complished after his own fashion. No sooner had the 
governor departed than Cortes directed Juan Suarez, 
with lance and cross-bow, to await him at a certain 
place. Escaping the guard during the night, Cortes 
joined Suarez, and proceeded to the plantation where 
Velazquez was quartered. The governor, who was 
engaged in looking over some books of accounts, was 
not a little startled when Cortes knocked at the open 
door and entered. "Is it murder the man means with 
arms in his hands, and at this hour?" was his thought, 
as he gave the visitor a nervous welcome. " Command 
that no one come near me!" exclaimed Cortes, "else I 
will put this pike through him. And now, if my ex- 
cellent and brave captain, Senor Velazquez, has aught 
against me, let him speak. I am here to answer." 
So sweet was the mutual forgiveness that followed, 
that in the morning the two gentlemen were found 
occupying the same bed. 22 Not long after Cortes 

22 So the story was current at the time, and I doubt not it contains some 
degree of truth, notwithstanding Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 11-12, scouts it as 
a pure fabrication. He knew both men ; Velazquez as a proud chief, exacting 
the deepest reverence from those around him, and making them tremble at 
his frown ; while Cortes was in those days so lowly and humble as to be glad 
to curry favor with the meanest servants of the governor. The good bishop 
is evidently prejudiced. In De Rebus Oestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, 
Col. Doc, i. 332-4, the facts are a little elaborated and contradictory, as 
usual. Cortes escapes the guard round the church, and reaches the farm. 
' Halloh, sefiores ! ' he shouts, ' Cortes is at the door, and salutes Sefior 
Velazquez, his excellent and gallant captain.' Velazquez is astonished, yet 
pleased, at the arrival of one whom he always had regarded as a friend and 
beloved brother. He orders supper and bed to be prepared; but Cortes 
insists that none shall approach, or he will lance them. He demands to 
know what complaints there are against him. He abhors the suspicion of 
being a traitor, and will clear himself. ' Receive me, ' he concludes, ' in your 
favor with the same good faith that I return to it.' 'Now I believe,' 
answers Velazquez, ' that you regard as highly my name and fame as your 
own loyalty. ' They shake hands, and Cort6s now enters the house to 
fully explain the misunderstanding. After supper they retire to one bed. 
In the morning the messenger, Diego Orellana, arrives to announce Cortes' 
flight, and finds them lying side by side. Cortes will not proceed with 
the expedition just then; but after arranging his affairs he joins, to the 
delight of the general, who follows his advice implicitly, as he had done 


married Catalina, and jointly with his brother-in-law 
received an encomienda of Manicarao Indians. Like 
a brave .avalier he put the best face possible on the 
inevitable, and vowed he was as pleased with his bride 
as if she had been a duchess. 23 Velazquez stood 
godfather to a child born to them, and thenceforth 
addressed Cortes by the intimate term compadre, 2 * 
investing him afterward with the staff of alcalde at 
Santiago de Cuba. 25 For a time, however, he re- 
mained at Baracoa, where the preceding events oc- 
curred, and beside mining he was one of the first upon 
the island to engage in stock raising. Thus by diligence 
and judicious investments he was enabled to rise from 
poverty, as well as from profligacy, and to stand ready 
to embrace the golden opportunity fortune was now 
about to offer him. 

The soft white snow gently dropped upon the 
mountain top is forged by alternate thawings and 
freezings into hard, rasping glaciers. 

in former campaigns. After their victorious return Cortes enjoys greater 
honors than ever. Peralta, who also gives the story at length, states that 
Cortes surprised Velazquez asleep. At the request of the governor he gave 
himself up to the jailer in order to be formally released. Nat. Hist., 58-62. 
Still Peralta is a little confused. 

23 She was received by Cortes in Mexico, after the conquest, with great 
distinction ; but died in about three months after her arrival. 

' 2i Las Casas, who, as usual, will have a fling at Cortes, writes: 'Tuvo 
Cortes un hijo 6 hija, no se si en su mujer, y suplico a Diego Velazquez 
que tuviese por bien de se lo sacar de la pila en el baptismo y ser su com- 
padre, lo que Diego Velazquez acept6, por honralle.' Hist. Ind., iv. 13. 
Among Cortes' children a natural daughter by a Cuban Indian is mentioned, 
Be mat Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 238, but it is not likely that Cortes would ask 
the governor to stand godfather to a natural child. The same writer makes 
Velazquez the groomsman or sponsor at the marriage. ' Fue su padrino, 
quando Cortes se veld con Dona Catalina; ' ib., 13; Vetancovrt, Teatro Mex., 
pt. iii. 109. Although compadre is not unfrequently used as a mere term of 
friendship, it is not likely to have been applied by a marriage padrino ; 
hence the title of co-father indicates that it originated at the font. 

25 An office granted only to men of note and to leading conquistadores. 
Solis, Hist. Mex. , i. 46. It conveyed the title of 'muy virtuoso senor, ' the gov- 
ernor being called 'muymagnifico senor,' PacAeco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., xii. 
225, and permitted the holder to walk side by side with the governor. Herrera, 
dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xii. ' Auia sido dos vezes Alcalde en la Villa de Satiago de 
Boroco, adode era vezino : porque en aquestas tierras setiene por mucha honra. ' 
Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 13. He does not refer to him as alcalde at Santi- 
ago de Cuba, where the fleet is fitting out, as he clearly states. Gomara, Hist. 
Mex. , 4, mentions merely that he was here before the quarrel with Velazquez. 
Some writers assume that Santiago de Cuba is the same as Santiago de Baracoa, 
but Herrera, he. cit. , and others, observe the distinction. 




The Quality of Leader Desired — Instructions Issued to Hernan Cor- 
tes, Commander-in-Chief — The Character of Cortes Undergoes a 
Change — Cost of the Expedition — By whom Borne — Places Estab- 
lished for Enlistment — The Banner — Cortes Puts on the Great 
Man — More of his Character — The Scene at Santiago Harbor — 
The Governor's Jester — Dark Suspicions of Velazquez — Departure 
from Santiago — Cortes at Trinidad — Fresh Recruits — Verdugo 
Receives Orders to Depose Cortes — The Fleet Proceeds to San 
Cristobal, or The Habana — Review at Guaguanico — Speech of 
Cortes — Organization into Companies — Departure from Cuba. 

With relations so lovingly established, and with a. 
personal knowledge of the military genius of Cortes, 
and the strength and versatility of his character, it 
would seem that here would be the first instant choice 
of the governor for the command of the important 
expedition now in preparation. But the quality of 
the man required did not altogether hinge on merit. 
As we have seen, Velazquez required for his purpose 
an anomalous creation. He must be able but humble; 
able to command men, and able likewise to obey his 
chief; honest to Velazquez, but false, if necessary, 
to all the world else. It was not an Alexander or an 
Alcibiades that was wanted; not so much a man as a 
thing: "Piper, non homo," as Petronius Arbiter said; 
pungent as pepper, and not a human being. 

Be this as it may, the sordid friendship of Lares 
and Duero prevailed with the governor, and on the 23d 
of October, 1518, his instructions to Hernan Cortes, 
commander-in-chief of the expedition, were drawn up 



before the notary, Alonso cle Escalante, in accordance 
with the permission granted by the authorities at Santo 
Domingo, which limited the enterprise to exploration; 
the privilege to colonize depending on royal favor for 
which Velazquez must sue in Spain. 1 

One would think that after these twenty-five years 
of experience there could be found no ecclesiastic or 
ruler so childish as to expect morality or humanity 
from the wolves of Spain let loose among the naked 
and defenceless of America. And yet we find the 
friars of Espahola, in pursuance of the devout and 
high-minded views expressed by Velazquez, subscrib- 
ing to instructions which enjoin Cortes to observe 
a conduct befitting a Christian soldier, as if there 
were any reasonable hope of his doing so. He must 
prohibit blasphemy, licentiousness, and gambling 
among his men, and on no account molest the natives, 
but gently inform them of the glory of God, and of 
the Catholic king. Possession must be taken in Ve- 
lazquez' name and the secrets of the country ascer- 
tained. Search must be made for Grijalva and Olid, 
and for the Christian captives supposed to be in 
Yucatan. We might again mark the double-dealing 
of the governor, who discharges Grijalva for not 
having settled contrary to his instructions, while 
charging the new commander not to seize the coun- 
try, yet expecting him to do so. 2 The instructions 

1 ' Fray Luys de Figueroa, fray Alonso de santo Domingo, y fray Bernaldino 
Macenedo, q eran los gouernadores, dieron la licencia para Fernando Cortes 
como capitan y armador co Diego Velazquez.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 12. The 
Fathers no doubt required to know the name of the commander. ' His litteris 
Cortesius confirmatus, ' is the statement inDe Rebus Gestis Ferd'mandi Coriesii, 
in Icazhakc+a, Col. Doc, i. 344, in reference to their prermit. This authority 
intimates that Salcedo, at a later date probably, obtained license from the 
Fathers for warfare in Yucatan and for the settlement of the mainland, but 
this is not confirmed anywhere. Id. , 350. 

- Evidently Velazquez desired his captains to disobey instructions and 
colonize. He could not officially authorize them to do so, not having as 
yet received permission from Spain. Xeither Velazquez nor Cortes had 
any intention in this instance of confining this enterprise to trade, or protect- 
ing the natives, or imposing morality upon the men. It was well understood 
by all that licentiousness and plunder were to be the reward for perils to 
be undergone. 'Atque etiam quod Grijalvae praBtenta, causa auxilii ferendi 
quod Alvaradus postulabat, ire licebat,'is the pointed observation in De Rebus 
Geslis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 343-4. Bernal Diaz, 


consist of thirty clauses, and the document reflects no 
credit on the scrivener. 3 

Man and his character are subject to environment. 
Neither is finished until decay has well set in. 
Long before the receipt of his commission the ado- 
lescent Cortes was a creation of the past; even the 
adult Cortes was a different being before and after 
his appointment. His action now was the expression 
of new intuitions. Always under the influence of 
turbulent emotions, his ambition had suddenly be- 
come more aggressive. In pure impulses, in refined 
feelings, in noble instincts, he was essentially defective. 
He harbored no ideal of duty, such as we have seen 
in the mind of Grijalva. His code of ethics was 
neither broad nor catholic. And notwithstanding his 
great respect for religion, so great indeed as to excite 
suspicion that he cared very little for it; notwith- 
standing his outward piety, and his devotion to the 
church, the lighter immoralities fitted him with an 
ease and grace that hampered his movements not in 
the least. Yet for all this the alcalde of Santiago 
suddenly became a great man, not in name only, but 
actually ; wellnigh revolutionizing the society of which 
he himself was the product. To him, and to others, his 
commission was a match applied to explosive material, 
letting loose the latent force. The leaders of the first 
gulf-shore expeditions, Cordoba, Grijalva, and Cortes, 
present themselves before us in relatively increasing 
proportions. Cordoba, the first, was least, though a 

Hist. Verdad., 13, refers to promises of Indian repartimientos in the new- 
regions as an inducement for volunteers. Cortes' statement at Vera Cruz, that 
he had no order to settle, means nothing in view of the motives then actuating 
him. Secret agreements between governors and lieutenants for defrauding the 
crown and promoting their own aims were only too common; and this is 
overlooked by those who trust merely to the instructions for arguments on 
this point. 

3 The full text of the instructions is to be found in Pacheco and Cardenas, 
Col. Doc, xii. 225-46; Col. Doc. Incd., i. 385, 406; Alaman, Disert, i. App. ii. 
1-27, with notes, reproduced in Zamacios, Hist. Mej. , ii. 791-815. The Munoz 
copy, given in Prescott's Mex., iii. 434-9, preserved the original spelling 
in the preamble, but the clauses are abbreviated, though Prescott does not 
appear to be aware of it. 


most gentlemanly and kind-hearted pirate. Grijalva, 
though second to Cortes in talents and fame, was far 
before him in honesty. During the preparations 
which quickly followed the appointment of Cortes, 
the inherent qualities of the man developed to a 
degree alarming alike to friends and enemies, and 
astonishing to himself. He found his nature a strong 
one, with magnetic attractions, and an affinity with 
danger. He found himself possessed of that higher 
courage of the mind which begets self-confidence, 
breeds the hero, and ends in the achievement of the 
uttermost. And genius was there; he began to feel 
it and to know it: the genius of ambition and ego- 
tism, whose central figure was himself, an all- 
prevailing sentiment, before which right, religion, 
humanity, and even life itself, must be subservient. 
His rapidly evolving will was becoming ponderous, 
overwhelming. Fame was becoming to him what 
ambition was to Columbus; only he possessed his 
idea instead of being possessed by it. Sufficiently 
educated for the purposes of statecraft, opportunity 
alone was needed to enable him to turn every weapon 
to the furtherance of his own designs. Without 
attempting to pry into the occult, he now began to 
see things with a large and liberal eye. Life was 
assuming tremendous realities, which bridled impulse ; 
} T et it was an ordeal he believed he could face. While 
in sophistry he found himself equal to Euripides, he 
began to put on bombast such as ^Eschylus could not 
have scorned, and to display an energy as sublime as 
that of Archilochus; yet all this time his good sense 
was supplemented by graceful courtesy. All who wor- 
ship the bright wit and intellectual versatility that 
flatter ambition and yield unscrupulous success may 
henceforth bow the knee to Hernan Cortes. 

No sooner was his commission sealed than Cortes set 
himself about the task of collecting his many require- 
ments. His own few thousand pesos of ready money 


were quickly spent; then he mortgaged his estates, 
and borrowed to the uttermost from his friends. 
Velazquez was free with everything except his sub- 
stance; free with his advice and ostentation, free 
with the ships of others, and willing to sell to the 
expedition the products of his farm at exorbitant 
prices. Nevertheless the investment to the gov- 
ernor, as well as to Cortes, was large, the former 
furnishing some ships of his own and some money, the 
whole cost of vessels and outfit being about twenty 
thousand ducats. 4 

4 The ownership of the expedition has been a moot question, some authors 
regarding it as pertaining chiefly to Velazquez, while others accord it wholly 
to Cortes and his friends. According to Gomara, after receiving the vessel 
brought by Alvarado, and another provided by Velazquez, CortCs, aided by 
his friends, bought two large and two small vessels before leaving Santiago; 
and at least two more were bought after this with bills forced upon the owners. 
The rest of the fleet appears to have been made up from the transport spoken 
of and from Grijalva's vessels. The latter is to be regarded as Velazquez' con- 
tribution, for in the testimony before the royal council in Spain, Montejo, the 
trusted friend of the commander, declares that on delivering them over to 
the governor he received the order to join Cortes, with the vessels, of course. 
His statements, and those of the captain Puertocarrero, confirmed by the let- 
ter of the ayuntamiento of Villa Rica to the emperor, agree that, from their 
own observations and the accounts given by others, CortCs must have con- 
tributed not only seven vessels, but expended over 5000 castellanos on the 
outfit, beside procuring goods and provisions, while Velazquez furnished only 
one third, chiefly in clothes, provisions, wines, and other effects, which he 
sold through an agent to the company, the witnesses included, at exorbitant 
prices. Montejo had heard that Velazquez contributed three vessels, but 
whether these were exclusive of Grijalva's fleet is not clear. He is also sup- 
posed to have lent Cortes 2000 castellanos, and to have given twelve or thir- 
teen hundred loads of bread, and 300tocinos, beside 1800 castellanos in goods, 
to be sold to the party at high prices. Every other supply Avas furnished by 
Cortes, who maintained the whole force without touching the ship's stores, 
while remaining in Cuba, no doubt. Col. Doc. hied., i. 487-90. Puertocarrero 
adds that CorteV liberality to men in advancing means and outfits was gen- 
erally admitted. He himself had received a horse from the commander. He 
gives a list of the outrageously high prices charged by Velazquez for his sup- 
plies. Id., 491-5. Another member of the expedition states that Cortes 
furnished seven vessels, and Velazquez three, two more belonging to the lat- 
ter joining the fleet afterward. Cortes paid for all the outfit. Extract ap- 
pended to Carta del Ayunt. de V. Cruz, in Col. Doc. lned., i. 419-20: ' Casi 
las dos partes. . . .a su (Cortes) costa, asi en navios como en bastimentos de 
mar.' ' Todo el concierto de la dicha armada se hizo a voluntad de dicho Diego 
Velazquez, aunque ni puso ni gasto el mas de la tercia parte de ella. . . .La 
mayor parte de la dicha tercia parte .... rue" emplear sus dineros en vinos y 
en ropas y en otras cosas de poco valor para nos lo vender aca (V. Cruz) en 
mucha mas cantidad de lo que a el le cost6.' Carta de la Justlcia de Vera- 
cruz, 10 de julio, 1519, in Cortes, Cartas, 8; Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, 
xiv. 37. Claiming to have no ready money of his own, Velazquez took for the 
expedition 1000 castellanos from the estate of Narvaez in his charge. Comara, 
Hist. Mex., 12-13. ' Salio de la Isla de Cuba... con quince navi6s suyos.' 


Establishing places of enlistment throughout the 
island, Cortes roused to action his many friends, both 
in person and by letter. At principal settlements the 
expedition was proclaimed about the streets, in the 
king's name, by the beating of drums and the voice 
of the crier. One third of the proceeds of the ad- 
venture was promised the soldiers and subalterns, 

Cortes, Memorial, 1542, in Cortes, Escritos Sueltos, 310. Peter Martyr assumes 
that Cuban colonists furnished the iieet with the governor's consent, and 
elected Cortes commander. Dec. iv. cap. vi. Solis, Hist. Mex., i. Gl, considers 
that Velazquez held only a minor share in the expedition. Montejo stated 
in a general way that he spent all his fortune on joining the expedition. Cen. 
Am., 1554-55, 127-30, in Squiers MS. In De Rebus Gestis Ferdlnandi 
Cortesil it is asserted that Cortes expended 6000 pesos of his own, and 6000 
ducats borrowed money, beside what Velazquez lent him; his expenditures 
being in all 15,000 pesos. Velazquez gave not one real, but merely sold 
goods at exorbitant figures, or made advances at a high interest, even the 
vessels provided by him being transferred to the commander under an ex- 
pensive charter. ' Sunt preterea niulti Hispanr viri boni qui et nunc vivunt, 
et qui cum ea classis de qua agimus, apparabatur, aderant. Hi in hujus 
causae defensione, cujus apud Consilium Kegium Indicum Cortesius est accu- 
satus, testes jurati asserant Velazquium nihil omnino ex propria facilitate in 
Cortesii classem impendisse.' This would indicate that Montejo and Puer- 
tocarrcro's testimony was confirmed by many others. The agent, Juan Diaz, 
who attended to the sale of the goods and the collection of the advances, fell 
in the retreat from Mexico, and his money was lost. Icazbalceta, Col. Doc., 
i. 345-9. This testimony by members of the expedition merits the foremost 
attention in the question, particularly since the fewer statements on the other 
side are based wholly on supposition. It is somewhat qualified, however, 
by the consideration that both Montejo and Puertocarrero were stanch 
friends of Cortes, and that the letter of the ayuntamiento was prepared in 
his presence. It must also be borne in mind that a goodly proportion of the 
share attributed to him consisted of vessels and effects obtained upon his 
credit as captain-general of the fleet, and also in a semi-piratical manner. The 
statements in Cortes, Memorial, and in De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Gort<sii, 
indicate, beside, a hardly warranted attempt to regard Velazquez' contribu- 
tion chiefly as a loan to the commander or to the party, his vessels being 
spoken of as chartered. Another proportion belonged to wealthy volun- 
teers. On the whole, however, it may be concluded that CortCs could lay 
claim to a larger share in the expedition than Velazquez; but the latter pos- 
sessed the title of being not only the discoverer, through his captains, of the 
regions to be conquered, but the projector of the expedition. Oviedo, while 
believing that the fleet belonged with more right to ,the governor, feels no 
pity for the treatment he received, in view of his own conduct to Diego Colon. 
Complacently he cites the proverb: ' Matards ymatarte han: y matardn quien te 
matare.' As you do unto others, so shall be done unto you. Oviedo asserts 
that he has seen testimony showing that Cortes and his men did not sail at 
their own expense, but from his own statement it appears that the instruc- 
tions of Velazquez, wherein he speaks of the expedition as sent in his name, 
is the chief feature in this so-called testimony; i. 538-9. Las Casas naturally 
sides with Velazquez, and estimates that he expended over 20,000 caste- 
llanos ; he had no need for, nor would he have stooped to a partnership, at 
least with a man like Cortes. Hist. lud., iv. 448. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. 
cap. xi., copies this, and Torquemada, i. 359, reverses this figure in favor 
of Cortes. 


two thirds going to the outfitters. 5 A banner of black 
taffeta was embroidered with the royal arms in gold, 
and blue and white flames surrounding a red cross, 
and round the border it bore the inscription, "Amici 
sequamur crucem, si nos habuerimus fidem in hoc 
signo vincemus." Friends, let us follow the cross, 
and if we have faith under this sign we shall conquer. 6 
Assuming a dress and bearing more fitting a mili- 
tary commander, Cortes threw open his doors, and by 
judiciously combining the frank joviality of a soldier 
with the liberal hospitality of a man of wealth, he 
rapidly drew to his adventure all the available men 
of the island. There were not lacking those to sneer 
at this assumption of preeminence, which flaunted it 
so bravely with plume and medal, with martial music 
and retinue, saying, here was a lord without lands. 7 
But they little knew the strength and firmness of 
him who, having once put on the great "man, would 
lay the livery down but with his life. This soldierly 
display, always taking to the Castilian fancy, could 
scarcely be called affectation, for the genius which 
commands success was present, and the firmness of 
resolve was covered with such pleasing affability as 
to render its presence scarcely suspected. With his 

5 Testimonio de Puertocarrero, in Col. Doc. Ined., i. 491. ' Mado dar 
pregones, y tocar susatambores, y trompetas en nombre de su Magestad, y 
en su Real nombre por Diego Velazquez para que qualesquier personas que 
quisiessen ir en su compaiiia a las tierras nuevamente descubiertas a, los con- 
quistar y doblar, les darian sus partes del oro plata, y joyas que se huviesse, 
y encomiendas de Indios despues de pacificada.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 
13. Mark here the promise of encomiendas to the volunteers. The word 
1 doblar ' doubtless meant to explore or to sail round the new islands. Bernal 
Diaz does not fail to observe that the royal license had not yet arrived to 
warrant these proclamations. 

6 See Landa, Bel. de Yuc. , 23 ; Tapia, Rel. , in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc. , ii. 554 ; 
Fancourt, Hist. Yuc, 27, leaves out the middle sentence; Gomara, Hist. 
Mex.,15; Torquemada, i. 364, and others give only the Spanish translation. 
Prescott says the flag was of velvet, and attributes the sign to the labarum 
of Constantine, which, to say the least, is somewhat far-fetched. Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 13, places the motto upon ' estandartes, y vanderas labradas de 
oro co las armas Reales, y una Cruz de cada parte, juntamente con las armas 
de nuestro Rey.' 

7 ' Se puso vn penacho de plumas con su medalla deoro.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. 
Verdad., 13. ' Tomo casa. Hizo Mesa. Y comenco a yr con armas, y mucha 
compaiiia. De que muchos murmurauan, diziendo que tenia estado sin seiiorio. ' 
Gomara, Hist. Mex., 13. 


fine soldierly qualities were financial and executive 
ability, and fair common sense, a rare combination in 
a Spanish cavalier. While loving adventure he did 
not altogether hate ideas. His world now spread 
itself before him, as divided into two unequal classes, 
those that use others, and those that are used by 
others, and he resolved himself forever into the 
former category. Like Diogenes, though enslaved a/t 
Crete, Cortes felt that if he could do one thing better 
than another it was to command men. Coupled with 
this egotism was the sensible intuition that the mas- 
tery of others begins with self-mastery. Indeed his 
command over himself, as well as over others, was 
most remarkable. " By my conscience!" was a favor- 
ite oath, which implies not brutal passion. At times 
a swelling vein in the forehead, and another in the 
throat, indicated rising anger, manifested also by a 
peculiarity of throwing off his cloak; but the voice 
would remain decorous, and the words seldom passed 
beyond a " Mai pese a vos !" May it bear heavily upon 
vou. To the insolent soldier, whom we shall often 
find overstepping the bounds of prudence, he would 
merely say, "Be silent!" or "Go, in God's name, and 
be more careful if you would escape punishment." 
Equally composed in argument, he wielded his per- 
suasive powers to their best advantage. Rio de Ave- 
nida, the Rushing River, was at one time a nickname, 
and later he affected long hair and lawsuits. At the 
gaming-table, to which he was greatly addicted, he 
won or lost with equal sang-froid, ever ready with a 
witticism to smooth the varying course of fortune. 
Though he did not hesitate as gay Lothario to invade 
the family of another, most unreasonably he was very 
jealous lest his own family should be invaded. While 
liberal to friend or mistress, and ready to sacrifice 
almost anything to gain an object, he was not always 
regarded as over-generous by his men, too many of 
whom were of that class, however, that nothing would 
satisfy. Although a fair eater, he drank but little, 


and confined himself to simple diet. This moderation 
also extended to dress, which, before his elevation, 
was not only neat but tasteful in its rich simplicity, 
ornamented with few but choice jewels, and with little 
diversity. A love of pomp, however, developed with 
his rising fortunes, more particularly in the way of 
showy residences and a large retinue, which accorded 
well with the courtly manners native to the Spaniard 
claiming noble blood. Cervantes says that in the 
army even the niggardly become prodigal. 

Cortes found the way of throwing into his cause 
not only himself, but others, in some respects as able 
as himself. His liberal measures and enthusiasm 
became infectious, and brought to enrolment wealthy 
volunteers, who furnished not only their own outfit, 
but helped to provide others. 8 Within a short time 
there joined over three hundred men, among them 
some hiodi in the service and confidence of the 
governor — instance, Francisco de Morla his chamber- 
lain, Martin Ramos de Lares a Basque, Pedro Escu- 
dero, Juan Ruano, Escobar, and Diego de Ordaz 
mayordomo of Velazquez, and instructed by him to 
watch proceedings and secretly report. 

The harbor of Santiago at this time presented a 
busy scene. There were the hurrying to and fro of 
laborers and recruits, the clang of carpenters' ham- 
mers upon ships undergoing repairs, the collecting of 
goods, and the loading of vessels. Every day the 
landing was enlivened by the presence of the governor, 
often arm-in-arm with his most dutiful and compliant 
captain-general, surrounded by gayly dressed attend- 
ants and followed by half the town. On one of these 
visits of inspection, while engaged in friendly conversa- 
tion respecting the progress of affairs, the Governor's 
jester, Francisquillo, who was present, as usual, per- 

8 Cortes himself was very liberal in advancing money or necessaries. Puer-, loc. cit. This cavalier received a horse which Cortes bought at 
Trinidad with gold fringes taken from his mantle. Bemal Diaz, Hist. Ver- 
dacl., 14. 'Dio a muchos soldados . . . dineros con obligacio de man comun.' 
Ooniara, Hist. Mex., 12. 


forming his antics before his master, cried out, "Ah, 
friend Diego!" Then to Cortes, "And how fares our 
brave captain, he of Medellin and Estremadura? Be 
careful, good master, or we shall soon have to beat 
the bush for this same Cortes." Velazquez laughed 
heartily, and turning to his companion exclaimed, 
"Compadre, do you hear this fool?" "What, senor?" 
replied Cortes, pretending preoccupation. "He says 
you will run away with our fleet," replied Velazquez. 
" Pay no attention to the knave, your worship; I am 
very sure these infamous pleasantries never emanated 
from his mad brain/' rejoined Cortes, deeply chagrined. 
And ere the laugh died away on the lips of the 
governor his timid breast was chilled by fearful fore- 
bodings. What if it were true, thought Velazquez, 
and this fellow, whom I have lifted from his low 
estate, should declare for himself on reaching New 
Spain? Then he called to mind his late quarrel with 
Cortes, and the courage, energy, and determination 
displayed by the latter throughout. The governor 
trembled when he thought of it. About him were 
enough of the disappointed only too ready to fan these 
suspicions into a flame. 9 

I regret having to spoil a good story ; but the truth 
is, the drama reported by Bartolome Las Casas, and 
reiterated by Herrera and Prescott, was never per- 
formed. It tells how Cortes put to sea, Prescott 
asserts the very night after the jester's warning; and 
that in the morning, when the governor, early roused 
from his bed, rushed down to the landing with all the 
town at his heels, Cortes returned part way in an 
armed boat and bandied words with him. Beside 
being improbable, almost impossible, this version is 

9 Las Casas, Hist, hid., iv. 450-1; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xi. Bernal 
Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 13, relates the incident as having occurred on the way to 
Sunday mass. The fool, whom he calls Cervantes, was walking in front of his 
master and Cortes, uttering nonsense in prose and rhyme; finally he said in a 
louder voice, ' By my faith, master Diego, a nice captain have you chosen: 
one who will run away with the fleet, I warrant, for he has courage and 
enterprise.' Duero, who walked close by, sought to check his tongue by 
striking at him and by shouting, ' Silence, fool ! Don't be knavish as well, 


not sustained by the best authorities. 10 The fact 
is, some time elapsed, after the suspicions of the gov- 
ernor had first been aroused, before the sailing of 
the fleet, during which interval Grijalva with his ships 

Gomara states that Velazquez sought to break with 
Cortes and send only Grijalva's vessels, with another 
commander; but to this Lares and Duero, whose ad- 
vice was asked by the governor, made strong objection, 
saying that Cortes and his friends had spent too much 
money now to abandon the enterprise, which was very 
true; for like the appetite of Angaston which came 
with eating, the more Cortes tasted the sweets of 
popularity and power, the more stomach he had for 
the business. And the more the suspicions of the 
governor grew, the greater were the captain-general's 
assurances of devotion, and the firmer became the 
determination of Cortes and his followers 'to prosecute 
this adventure, in which they had staked their all. 11 

for we know that this pretended jest is not of thyself.' But the jester 
persisted in calling out, ' Hail to my master Diego and his valiant captain ! 
I swear to thee, my master, that rather than see thee grievously regret 
this foolish step I would hie me with Cortes to those rich lands.' It 
was supposed that Velazquez' relatives had induced the man to make these 

10 Prescott states that Las Casas was on the island at the time. In this 
he is mistaken. On the other hand, Bernal Diaz was an eye-witness, and 
tells a very different story. But the tale of the soldier is not so striking 
as that of the priest, who writes from the statements of Velazquez' friends, 
colored by time and distance. The final words which passed between the 
governor and Cortes, according to Las Casas, in effect were these : ' Com- 
padre, is this the way you are going ? A nice manner, truly, of taking 
leave ! ' To which Cortes makes answer, ' Pardon me, sir ; there are things 
which must be carried out before they are considered. I wait your wor- 
ship's orders. ' Hist, hid., iv. 451-2; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xii. 

11 Testimonio de Montejo, in Col. Doc. hied., i. 437. 'No le pudo estoruar 
la yda porq todos le siguian: los q alii estaua, como los c\ venian con Grijalua. 
Ca si lo tentara con rigor vuiera rebuelta en la ciudad, y aun muertes. 
Y como no era parte dissimulo. ' Cortes even announced that he was going 
on his own account, and that the soldiers had nothing to do with Velazquez. 
Gomara, Hist. Mex., 13. But this is highly improbable. According to De 
Jiebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, Cort6s spread insinuations against Velazquez' 
greed and selfishness, commented upon his own liberality and upon the rich 
prospects before them, and thus gained the voice of his followers, so that 
the former dared not attempt any overt acts. ' Lorica ab eo tempore sub 
veste munitus, stipatusque armatis militibus, quos spe sibi fidos amicos f ecerat. ' 
Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 346-9; Cortes, Memorial, 1542, in Cortes, Escritos 
fiueltos, 310. Las Casas repeats his condemnation of Gomara, as a man who 


Warned by Lares and Duero of every plot, Cortes 
hurried preparations, sending friends to forage, and 
shipping store-s with the utmost despatch, meanwhile 
giving secret orders for all to be ready to embark at 
a moment's notice. Finally, the hour having come, 
on the evening of the 17th of November, with a few 
trusty adherents, Cortes presented himself before the 
governor, and politely took his leave. It fell suddenly 
on Velazquez, in whose eyes all movements relating 
to the expedition had of late become the manoeuvres 
of men conspired to overreach him. But having 
neither the excuse nor the ability to stop the expedi- 
tion he let the officers depart. 

By playing with the devil one soon learns to 
play the devil. From the governor's house Cortes 
hastened to the public meat depository, seized and 
added to his stores the town's next week's supply, 
and left the keeper, Fernando Alfonso, a gold chain, 
all he had remaining wherewith to make payment. 12 
It was a dull, dry, gray November morning, the 
18th, very early, after mass had been said, when the 
squadron, consisting of six vessels, sailed out of 
Santiago harbor amidst the vivas of the populace 
and the inward cursings of the governor. 13 But of 
little avail was Velazquez' remorse ; for Cortes carried 

wrote only what he was told by his master. He scouts the idea of the 
powerful Velazquez either needing CorteV pecuniary aid or not being able 
to dispose of his fleet as he wished. A humble squire, indeed, to raise his 
voice against the great Velazquez, who could have taken his bread and life 
at any moment ! Hist. hid. , iv. 448-9. 

12 In his memorial to the emperor in 1542, CortCs relates this enforced 
transaction quite at length. Learning that his stock of the week had been 
seized, Hernan Dalonso seeks Cortes and complains, with tears in his eyes, 
whereupon he receives the gold chain, ' de unos abrojos.' Cortes, Escritos Suel- 
tos, 310-11; Col. Doc. hied., iv. 221. 

n Bernal Diaz asserts that Duero and Lares were present at the parting, 
and that Velazquez and CortCs several times embraced each other and vowed 
eternal friendship. ' Habuit Cortesius ciim e Sancti Jacobi urbe et portu 
solvit, naves sex ; alia, nam septem habuit, in portu, ut sarciretur reficereturque, 
relicta. ' De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in I cazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 348. 
This authority believes that one of the reasons for Cortes' hurried departure 
was a fear that Grijalva's vessels might turn up; but they had already arrived, 
as we have seen. The seventh vessel, a caravel, joined Cortes at Trinidad, 
with nine horses and eighty volunteers, under Francisco de Salceclo. Id., 354. 
' Partio se de Santiago Barucoa. . . .en seys nauios. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 13. 


no ^Eolian wind-bags to drive him back from his 

Despatching one of the vessels to Jamaica 14 for 
provisions, Cortes touched at Macaca for further sup- 
plies, and thence steered for Trinidad, where he was 
received with demonstrations of enthusiasm by the 
alcalde mayor, Francisco Verdugo brother-in-law of 
Velazquez, and by other hidalgos, who placed their 
houses at his disposal. Raising his standard before 
his quarters, he proclaimed the expedition and invited 
volunteers, as he had done at Santiago. Soon his 
force was augmented by over one hundred of Gri- 
jalva's men. Here also joined several captains and 
hidalgos, afterward famous in New Spain adventure. 
There were the five brothers Alvarado, Alonso de 
Avila, Gonzalo Mejia afterward treasurer at Mexico, 
Cristobal de Olid, Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero 
cousin of the count of Medellin, Gonzalo de Sando- 
val who became so great a friend of Cortes, Juan 
Velazquez de Leon a relative of the governor, and 
others. 15 From the plantations of Santi Espiritu and 
elsewhere came many. This Cortes beheld with proud 
satisfaction, and welcomed these important acquisitions 
with martial music and peals of artillery. 

In seeking supplies Cortes paid little heed to rights 
of property, so long as he obtained what he needed; 
he was subsequently not a little proud of his success. 
"By my faith," he boasts in Spain in 1542, "but I did 
play the corsair genteelly." Among the arbitrary 
purchases was that of a vessel from Jamaica laden 
with provisions for the mines, for which the owner 

14 Pedro Juarez Gallinato de Porra was sent with a caravel under orders 
to take the cargo of supplies to Cabo Corrientes or Punta de San tan ton, and 
there await the fleet. Gomara, Uist. Mex., 13. In De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi 
Cortesii, loc. cit., the captain is called Pedro Gonzalez de Trujillo. He brings 
b")00 tocinas (salt pork), and 2000 loads cassava. ' Mil cargas de pan cazavi, 
y dos mil tocinos y muchos fasoles y aves y otras cosas.' Cortes, Memorial, 
l.")42, in id., Escritos Sueltos, 311. 

13 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 14, mentions several more names, with occa- 
sional remarks on wealth and standing. Puertocarrero is also written Puerto 
Carrero, and in the modern form of Portocarrero. Torquemada and Oviedo, 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 5 


might accept promisson 7 notes or nothing. 16 Another 
vessel from the same place, on the same mission, 
Cortes sent Ordaz to seize and convey to Cape San 
Antonio, or perhaps to San Cristobal where we after- 
ward find him, there to await the fleet. This captain, 
it will be remembered, was the spy of Velazquez, and 
to him, therefore, rather than to another, was given 
this mission, to prevent his watching proceedings at 
Trinidad. The commander of the seized vessel was 
Juan Nunez Sedeno, who w r as induced to join the 
expedition. 17 Meanwhile in the breast of Velazquez 
was stirred afresh the poison of jealousy by an astrol- 
oger, one Juan Millan, employed by the enemies of 
Cortes to work on the fears of the governor. The 
result was the arrival at Trinidad, in hot haste, of 
two messengers from the governor, w T ith orders for 
Verdugo to detain the fleet, the command of which 
had been transferred to Vasco Porcallo. Moreover, 
all the retainers of Velazquez w T ere called upon to 
aid in deposing Cortes. It was no difficult matter, 
however, for Cortes to persuade Verdugo of two 
things: first, that there were no grounds for Velaz- 
quez' fears, and secondly, if there were, force would 
now avail him nothing. So strong w T as Cortes in his 
position that he could easily la} 7 the town in ashes 
should its authorities attempt to interfere in his pur- 
poses. Taking one of the messengers, Pedro Lasso, 
into his service, by the other Cortes wrote Velazquez, 

16 This appears to be the same vessel referred to by Gomara as Alonso 
Guillen's, bought at Trinidad, though nothing is of course said about the mode 
of payment. Hist. Mex. , 13. Prescott mistakes in making Sedeno the master 
of this vessel. 

17 Ordaz proceeded on his mission in the caravel El Guerho, and returned 
to Trinidad in the vessel of Sedeno, who received two thousand and more cas- 
tellanos in gold fringes, the only treasure on hand. Cortes, Memorial, 1542, in 
id., Escritos Saeltos, 312. ' Quatro mil arrouas de pan, mil y quinientos 
tocinos y muchas gallinas.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 14. Bernal Diaz intimates 
that Sedeno came into port of his own accord, and was induced to sell ships 
and cargo. Hist. Vcrdad., 14. He was reputed the richest man in the party. 
lb.; Las Casas, Hist, hid., ii. 455-6; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xii. 'De 
una hacienda de V. M. compro al mayordomo de ella quinientas 6 tantas 
cargas (pan)'. Cortes, Memorial, 1542, loc. cit. The Probanza por Lejalde, in 
Jrazba/reta, Col. Doe., i. 411, contains interesting testimony as to what goods 
were obtained, and how. 


in language most respectful, begging him to believe 
that he would always be true to his God, his king, 
and his dear friend and governor. In like notes the 
robin and the screech-owl muffle their voices when 
danger is near, so as to conceal the distance, and make 
themselves seem far away. Thus passed twelve days, 
according to Bernal Diaz, at Trinidad, when one of 
the vessels was despatched to the north side of the 
island for supplies, and the fleet departed for San 
Cristobal, then Habana, 18 while Pedro de Alvarado, 
with fifty soldiers and all the horses, proceeded thither 
overland, adding to their number at the plantations 
on the way. 

One night during the voyage to San Cristobal, the 
flag-ship was separated from the other vessels and 
stranded on a reef near Isla de Pinos. With skill and 
promptness Cortes transferred the contents in small 
boats to the shore, set free the lightened vessel, and, 
reloading, joined his captains at San Cristobal. This 
accident delayed him seven days, during which time 
there was no small stir among his men at San Cristo- 
bal as to who should command the fleet in case its 
captain-general failed to appear. Conspicuous among 
these questioners was Ordaz, who claimed precedence 
as Velazquez' representative. But the arrival of the 
commander put an end to the controversy and spread 
unbounded joy throughout the armada. Landing, he 
accepted the hospitality of Pedro Barba, lieutenant of 
Velazquez. Among those who joined him here were 
Francisco Montejo, the future conqueror of Yucatan, 
and Diego de Soto, who in Mexico became the 
mayordomo of Cortes. Again the commander rid 
himself of Ordaz by sending him with a vessel to the 
plantations near Cape San Antonio, there to await 

18 The Habana was then situated on the south side of the island, not on 
the north side, where the appellation now obtains. Prescott and others fall 
into numerous blunders by supposing the Habana of to-day to be identical 
with the Habana of three hundred years ago, sending a whole fleet far out of 
its way for no other purpose than to collect provisions, which, one vessel would 
accomplish as well. 


the fleet. The artillery was landed and cleaned; the 
cross-bows were tested and the firelocks polished. 
Cotton armor was secured. More provisions being 
required, Quesada, the Episcopal tithe-collector, con- 
tributed his stock. 

Warranted, as he thought, by his success and pros- 
pects, and well aware of the effect on the Spanish 
mind of some degree of ostentation and military dis- 
play, Cortes put on the paraphernalia of still greater 
leadership, and appointed a chamberlain, a chief but- 
ler, and a mayordomo, in the persons of Rodrigo 
Rangel, Guzman, and Juan de C&ceres, which pomp 
he ever after maintained. 19 Gaspar de Garnica now 
arrived with letters from Velazquez to Barba, Ordaz, 
Leon, and others, ordering and entreating them to 
stop the fleet, arrest Cortes, and send him a prisoner 
to Santiago. It was of no avail, however. Soldiers, 
officers, even Barba himself, were enthusiastic for 
Cortes, who once more wrote the governor, in terms 
as courteous as they were costless, and shortly after- 
ward, on the 10th of February, 1519, the fleet again 
set sail. 20 Guaguanico, on the north side of Cape 

19 'Comenco Cortes a poner casa, y a tratarse como sefior: y el primer 
Maestresala q tuvo, fue vn Guzma que luego se murio, 6 mataron Indies. ' A 
different man from the later mayordomo, Crist6bal de Guzman, who captured 
Quauhtemotzin during the siege of Mexico. ' Caceres .... fue despues de 
ganado Mexico, liombre rico.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 15-16. 

20 Bernal Diaz says that Barba was one of the most devoted to Cortes. 
See, also, Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii., cap. xiii. Solis details at length a public 
gathering, in which the members of the expedition became highly excited 
over Velazquez' efforts to stop Cortes, and threatened to destroy the town. 
He adds that a rumor of Velazquez' coming in person to enforce his order 
created another excitement. Hist. Mex., i. 63-6; Robertson, Hist. Am., ii. 8, 
follows him; also Prescott. According to Las Casas, Velazquez sends a letter 
to Cortes, asking him to wait for an important communication, which he will 
bring in person or send by messenger. At the same time come letters for 
Ordaz and others, requesting them to seize the commander. Ordaz accord- 
ingly invites him to a banquet on board his vessel, with the intent of carry- 
ing him off to Santiago ; but Cortes perceives the snare and retires under pre- 
tence of indisposition. The good bishop observes that he never knew 
Velazquez evince so little sagacity as on this occasion ; nor did Ordaz behave 
any better. Hist. Ind., iv. 456-7. Gomara has the same account, but adds 
that the messenger from Velazquez came in a caravel, together with Alvarado, 
Olid, Avila, Montejo, and others of Grijalva's party, who had just arrived from 
an interview with the governor. Hist. Mex., 14. He is evidently mixed. 
Torquemada, who quotes both versions from Herrera and Gomara, places the 
occurrence at Trinidad, and considers that CortCs was capable of and right 


San Antonio, was the place appointed for muster 
and apportionment. 21 Meanwhile Pedro Alvarado 
was sent forward with sixty soldiers in the San 
Sebastian to bring Ordaz to the rendezvous, but 
driven by a gale beyond his goal and near to Yuca- 
tan, he thought it useless to return, and so proceeded 
to Cozumel Island, where he arrived two days before 
the others. The expedition consisted of twelve ves- 
sels, the flag -ship or capitana of one hundred tons, 
three others of from sixty to eighty tons, and the 
rest small brigantines and open craft, including a 
transport commanded by Gines Nortes. The soldiers 
numbered live hundred and eight, and the sailors one 
hundred and nine, including officers and pilots. The 
priests present were Juan Diaz and Bartolome de 
Olmedo, of the Order of Mercy. Under Juan Beni- 
tez and Pedro de Guzman were thirty-two cross- 
bowmen; thirteen men only carried firelocks, the rest 
being armed with swords and spears. The artillery 
consisted of ten bronzed guns and four falconets, and 
was in charge of Francisco de Orozco, aided by Mesa 
Usagre, Arbenga, and others. About two hundred 
Cuban Indians, together with some native women 
and negro slaves, were brought for service, despite 
the prohibitory clause in the instructions. Sixteen 
horses receive the minute description and glowing 
encomium of the soldier Diaz, and play an important 
part in the coming campaign. The supplies included 
some five thousand tocinos, or pieces of salt pork, six 
thousand loads of maize and yucca, fowl, vegetables, 

in foiling Velazquez. Bernal Diaz scouts Gomara's story, which is repeated 
in De Rehus Gcslls Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 355-6. 
Peralta claims that his father, Suarez, pursued and slew the Indian courier 
sent with orders for Luis de Medina, then with the fleet, to assume the 
command. He thereupon brought the papers to Cortes and warned him to 
sail away. Nat. Hist. , 62-4. Peralta evidently upholds all his father told him. 
21 So affirms Tapia, one of the party. Relacion, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, 
ii. 555; and this is the view of most writers. Bernal Diaz states that the re- 
view was held at Cozumel, which may also have been the case; but he was 
not present at San Antonio. A review must have been held before the fleet set 
out on its voyage, in order that captains might be appointed and receive ap- 
portionments of men and supplies. Zamacois, Hist. Mcj., ii. 292-3, assumes 
that, owing to Alvarado's absence, the muster was reserved for Cozumel. 


groceries, and other provisions. For barter were 
beads, bells, mirrors, needles, ribbons, knives, hatchets, 
cotton goods, and other articles. 22 

The force was divided into eleven companies, each 
under a captain having control on sea and land. The 
names of the captains were Alonso Hernandez Puer- 
tocarrero, Alonso de Avila, Diego de Ordaz, Fran- 
cisco de Montejo, Francisco de Morla, Escobar, Juan 
de Escalante, Juan Velazquez de Leon, Cristobal de 
Olid, Pedro de Alvarado, and Cortes, with Anton de 
Alaminos as chief pilot. 23 

From this list it will be seen that those but lately 
regarded as of the Velazquez party received their full 
share in the command. This cannot be attributed so 
much to the captain-general's sense of fairness, which 
forbade him to take advantage of interests voluntarily 
intrusted to his care, as to a studied policy whereby 
he hoped to win for his purposes certain men of in- 

22 'Tomo [Cortes] fiada de Diego Sanz tendero, vna tieda de bohoneria en 
sietecietos pesos de oro.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 12, 14-15. This was at San- 
tiago. This author, who, together with Diaz, forms the main authority for 
the above list, mentions only eleven vessels, but does not include Alvarado's. 
He places the Spanish force at 550 men, but, by adding to this the sixty and 
odd men absent with Alvarado from the review, the number would agree with 
Beraal Diaz' figures. Thirteen vessels, two having joined at Habanaas trans- 
ports; 530 infantry; twenty-four horses; 5000 loads of maize and cassava; 
2000 tocinos. De Febus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 
356. Twelve vessels and 500 men. Carta del Ayunt, de V. Cruz, in Col. Doc. 
Incd. , i. 419-20. Fifteen vessels and 500 men, without any Indians or negroes, 
says Cortes, in his Memorial, 1542, not venturing to admit that he had dis- 
obeyed the royal order and his instructions in taking Cuban Indians. Cortes, 
E-seritos Sueltos, 310 ; Col. Doc. Incd., iv. 220. Seven navios, three bergantines. 
Ovledo, i. 539. Nine vessels, 550 Spaniards, two to three hundred Indians. 
Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 446, 457. Eleven vessels of thirty to one hundred 
tons, 663 Spaniards, including thirty men with firearms. Brasseur de Bour- 
bourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 54; Cogolludo, Hist. Yucaihan, 19; Vetancvrt, Teatro 
Ecles., pt. ii. 100-11; Fancourt's Hist. Yuc, 26-7; £amacois, Hist. Mcj., ii. 
296. Thirteen vessels, 560 persons, thirteen horses. Tnjna, JRelncion, in Icaz- 
balceta, Col. Doc, ii. 558; Prescott, Mex., i. 262, follows both Bernal Diaz 
and Gomara, but without seeking to account for their differences, and thus 
allows himself to exceed every other authentic estimate for the number of 
the men. 

23 Torquemada, i. 364; Gomara, Hist. Mex., 14, gives the same names, 
except that Francisco de Salcedo stands in the place of Alvarado. Solis, 
Hist. Mex., i. 66, mentions eleven, including Salcedo and Nortes; Las Casas, 
Hist lad., iv. 453, names eight, as appointed by Velazquez. Zamacois, Hist 
Mcj., ii. 287, leaves out Avila, which is certainly a mistake, based on Bernal 
Diaz, who includes Gines Nortes, the captain merely of a transport. Salcedo 
joined later, at Villa Rica. 


fluence, whom it would, for that matter, have been 
dangerous to remove. 

Before the review, Cortes addressed his soldiers in 
a speech as shrewd and stirring as that of Marcius at 
Corioli. Pointing to the thousands of unbaptized, he 
awakened their religious zeal ; dwelling on the grandeur 
of the undertaking, he stimulated their ambition; re- 
ferring to the vast wealth these lands contained, he 
excited their cupidity. Greater and richer lands than 
all the Spanish kingdoms, he called them, and in- 
habited by strange races, only awaiting submission to 
their invincible arms. Their whole fortune was in- 
vested in the fleet that carried them; but who would 
regret so trifling an expenditure when compared with 
the glorious results to follow ? They were setting out 
upon a career of conquest in the name of their God, 
who had always befriended the Spanish nation; and 
in the name of their emperor, for whom- they would 
achieve greater deeds than any ever performed. Riches 
lay spread before them; but like good and brave men 
they must look with him to the higher and nobler 
reward of glory. " Nevertheless," he archly added, 
"be true to me, as am I to you, and ere long I will 
load you with wealth such as you have never dreamed 
of. I will not say it is to be won without hardships; 
but who of you are afraid? We are few, but we are 
brave. Let us therefore on with the work so well 
begun, joyously and confidently to the end !" 24 There 
is no passion so artful as avarice in hiding itself under 
some virtue. Sometimes it is progress, sometimes 
patriotism, but its warmest cloak has ever been religion. 
There is a double profit to the devotee whose religion 
gratifies his avarice, and whose avarice is made a part 
of his religion. 

On the morning of February 1 8th mass was said, the 

24 Such is in substance the speech prepared by Gomara, Hist. Mex., 15-16, 
well suited for the enterprise, yet not exactly in accord with the pretended 
mission of peaceful trade and exploration. Torquemada, i. 364-5, gives it 
nearly in the same form, while Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 71-3, elaborates to suit 


campaign standard blessed, and Saint Peter invoked, 
whereupon the prows were pointed toward the islands 
of the west. All the vessels were to follow the flag- 
ship, whose light should be their guide by night; in 
case of separation they were to steer for Cape Catoche 
and thence proceed to Cozumel. 25 

23 The date of departure is generally admitted to be February 18th, but in 
Cortes, Memorial, 1542, is written ' tardo en esto [fitting out] desde dieciocho 
dias del mes de Octubre . . . hasta dieciocho dias del mes de Enero, del ano de 
diez y nueve que acab6 de salir de la dicha Isla de Cuba, del cabo de Corrientes. ' 
Cortes, Escritos Sueltos, 313. This is wrong, however, for the fleet could not 
have left Santiago before the date of the instructions; yet it confirms the fact 
that three months were spent, after leaving Santiago, before the fleet finally 
left the island. Some of the authors indicate a portion of this time, showing 
that eight days were spent at Macaco and twelve at Trinidad, leaving seventy- 
two days for the brief passages along the south coast of Cuba and for the 
stay at San Crist6bal. 

De Rebus Gestis Ferdinavdi Cortesu, or, as the Spanish translator entitles it, 
Vida de Hernan Cortes, giving the fullest but also the most partial account 
of Cortes up to this time, is an anonj-mous manuscript in Latin, of eleven 
folio leaves, deposited in the Simancas archives, whence Munoz obtained a 
copy, published by Icazbalceta in his Coleccion de Documentos, i. 309-57. It 
is in a clear hand, with corrections and marginals, evidently by the author. 
Several points indicate that it formed part of De Orbe JS T oro, a history of 
America, written apparently in a series of biographies, to judge from the 
reference made to a preceding part relating to Columbus, and to later parts 
on the conquest of Mexico. Munoz expresses the opinion that the author 
may be Calvet de Estrella, chronicler of the Indies, mentioned by Nic. 
Antonio as the writer of the manuscripts De Rebus Gestis Vaccce Castri, 
in the Colegio del Sacro Monte de Granada. This title induced him to name 
the present document De Rebus Gestis Ferdinandi Cortesii. The supposition 
is warranted by the style and by the evident date; for references indicate 
that it was written during the lifetime of several companions of Cortes. 
The fragment begins with the hero's birth and ends at his departure with the 
fleet from Cuba. Although the facts related conform, as a rule, to Gomara's 
version, a number of authorities have been consulted, some of them no longer 
extant, chiefly with a view to extol the character and career of the hero, and 
to elaborate incidents into tiresome prolixity. 




Something of the Captains of Cortes — Alvarado — Montejo — Avila — 
Olid — Sandoval — Leon — Ordaz — Morla — The Passage — The Fleet 
Struck by a Squall — Arrival at Cozumel — Alvarado Censured — 
Search for the Captive Christians — Arrival of Aguilar — His 
Chaste Adventures — They Come to Tabasco River — Battles 
there — Conquest of the Natives — Peace Made — Twenty Female 
Slaves among the Presents — The Fleet Proceeds along the 
Shore — Puertocarrero's Witticism — Arrival at San Juan de Ulua. 

As the everlasting waves that bowl his ships along 
are discoursing to Cortes of his destiny, let us make 
the acquaintance of his captains, some of whom are. 
to play parts in the Anahuac amphitheatre secondary 
only to his own. 

First, there was the fiery and impetuous Pedro de 
Alvarado, a hero of the Achilles or Sir Lancelot 
school, strong and symmetrical as a goddess-born; 
haughty, choleric, sometimes stanch and generous; 
passionate in his loves and hates, with the usual mix- 
ture of license, loyalty, and zeal for the church. He 
had not eyes to see, from where he stood in the war- 
fare of his day, at once the decline of the fiercer bar- 
barism and the dawn of a truer and gentler heroism. 
Already we have discovered flashes of temper and 
tendencies to treachery that display his character by 
too sulphurous a flame; but we shall find in him much 
to admire as conquistador and governor. 

Alvarado was about the age of Cortes, Bajadoz 
being his native place. There his father, Diego de 
Alvarado, comendador de Lobon in the order of San- 



tiago, and his mother, Sara de Contreras, struggled 
with poverty to maintain the reputation of a good 
family name. At the age of twenty-five Pedro came 
over to Santo Domingo, and prompted by vanity 
paraded himself in an old gown of his father's, whereon 
was sewn the red cross of Santiago. At first he wore 
this garment inside out, giving as a reason his reduced 
circumstances which made him ashamed to publicly 
own the rank of knight. On being reproved by the 
admiral, he boldly affixed the insignia to his other 
dresses, and thenceforth called and signed himself the 
Comendador Alvarado. 1 The title was never openly 
questioned in the Indies, where men had little time 
for inquiring into the affairs of others, and Alvarado 
failed not with his plausible tongue and crafty nature 
to use it for obtaining certain privileges and advance- 

When Grijalva prepared his expedition he was 
living as an encomendero, near Trinidad, in Cuba, 
with five brothers. 2 As captain under this chief he 
gave evidence of an enterprising nature, combined 
with an impatiency of restraint which ill fitted a 
subordinate. The want of principle already shown 
by his conduct at Santo Domingo was here made 
apparent in the attempt to injure his commander with 
Velazquez, in order to further his own ends. His now 
prominent position as a well-to-do gentleman, and 
the experience gathered under Grijalva, had made 
him a welcome member of the present expedition. 
He had also acquired the reputation of a good soldier 
and horseman, with a bravery bordering on reckless- 
ness, and was a great favorite with his men, among 
whom he also ranked as an able drill master. With 
an agile frame, he presented a most cheerful and 
pleasing countenance, fair, some called it, with a ten- 

1 ' Qustando en la cibdad de Sto Domingo vibiendo con el Almirante. 

Ramirez, Proceso contra Alvarado, pp. xi. 61; Juarros, Guat., i. 252. 

2 ' Todos hermanos, que fue el Capitan Pedro de Aluarado, y Goncalo de 
Aluarado, y Jorge de Aluarado, y Goncalo [Alonzo] y Gomez, e Juan de Alva- 
rado el viejo, que era bastardo.' Benial Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 14. 


dency to ruddiness. Its attraction centred chiefly in 
the eyes, and afterward obtained for him among the 
Indians of Tlascala the appellation of Tonatiuh, the 
Sun. 3 His first glance thrown upon a combatant was 
the flash which was to be followed by the thunder- 
bolt. Vanity prompted a careful attention to dress, 
but with a result approaching the showy rather than 
the elegant. His manner, no less winning than the 
face, made him a most agreeable companion, the more 
so as he was a liberal fellow, particularly with respect 
to women, and to pleasures generally. Beneath this 
smiling exterior, however, lay hidden an insatiable 
longing for power, and a blind worship of gold as 
the purchaser of pleasure, and under their influ- 
ence he became at times so insensible to feelings 
of humanity as to place him outside the category of 
greatness. 4 

Another of Grijalva's captains here present was 
Francisco de Montejo, who came from Spain with 
Pedrarias Davila in 1514. After enlisting men in 
Espahola, and aiding in the conquest of Cenu, he came 
to Cuba to wield the sword for Velazquez; but while 
ranking as a brave officer and a good horseman, he 
showed greater aptitude for business. 

At the present time he was about thirty-five years 
of age, of medium stature, and with a bright face, 

3 See Native Races, iii. 109 and 183. ' Biondo.' Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 
8. Elaborating this, Brasseur de Bourbourg says, 'Aux cheveux blonds et 
colore de visage, ce qui lui fit donner par les Tlaxcalteques le surnom de 
Tonatiuh.' Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 53. But the authority for calling him blonde 
is not mentioned. It may rest on mere tradition. A Mexican picture gives 
him dark beard and a yellow helmet or head-dress, the same colors being 
given to the beard and head-dress of figures representing the Spanish troops, 
liamirez is rather inclined to doubt the authenticity of the portrait so fre- 
quently copied from Cortina's copper-plates, representing him as of dark 
complexion, with long, meagre, pointed face, very high forehead, stubbed 
hair, mustache, and imperial. Ramirez, Proceso contra Alvarado, pp. xi. xxii. 
277-82, with plates. PrescoWs Mex. (Mex. 1844), i. 458; Id. (Gondra ed.), 
iii. 220; ' Ca/rbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., ii. 340, C8G, with signature. A 
wood-cut in Armin, Alte Mex., 222, presents a much younger man, with a 
round, handsome face, curled hair, and full, curled beard. This corresponds 
more to the description given in the text, but the authority is not indicated. 
Zamacois, Hist. Mej., ii. 484, gives a full-length portrait corresponding to this. 

4 Helps, Cortes, ii. 1G3, compares him to Murat, Cortes being the Napoleon. 
Bi mat Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 15, 210, 245. 


which indicated love for pleasure and generous lib- 
erality. 5 

Alonso de Avila, the third of Grijalva's brave lieu- 
tenants, had also a pleasant face and liberal disposition, 
combined with good reasoning power, but was alto- 
gether too loud-spoken and argumentative, and had 
an overbearing manner that created many enemies. 
He was about thirty-three years of age. Cristobal 
de Olid, a year his junior, was a well formed, strong- 
limbed man, with wide shoulders and a somewhat 
fair complexion. Despite the peculiarity of a groove 
in the lower lip, which gave it the appearance of being 
split, the face was most attractive, and the powerful 
voice helped to bear him out as a good talker. While 
lacking in sincerity and depth of thought, and being 
little fit for the council, he possessed qualities which, 
in connection with great bravery and determination, 
made him an admirable executive officer; but an 
ambition to command began to assert itself, and di- 
rected by evil influence it brought about his fall a few 
years later. Bernal Diaz calls him a very Hector in 
combat, and possessing, among other good qualities, 
that of being liberal; on the whole an excellent man, 
though unfit to be a leader. 6 The youngest of the 
captains, the most worshipful and the most lovable, 
was Gonzalo de Sandoval, an hidalgo of only twenty- 
two years, from Cortes' own town, the son of a fortress 
commandant, but with merely a rudimentary educa- 

h Montr jo, Memorial al Em])., 1545, in Cent. Amer., 1545-55, MS. 130. 
'Fue uno de aquellos milites que passaron a estas partes., .mill 6 quinientos 
y catorce, 6 aquel mesmo aiio . . . fu^sse de la Tierra-Firma. . . 6 passose a- la isla 
deCuba.' Oviedo, iii. 217. 

c See Hist. Cent. Am., this series, i., 524-32. 'Era estremado varon, mas 
no era para mandar, sino para ser madado, y era de edad de treinta y seis 
aiios, natural de cerca de Baezad Linares .... Tenia otras buenas codiciones, 
de ser franco.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 177. 'Era vn Hector en el esfu- 
erco, para combatir persona por persona.' Id., 240. 'Natural que fue de 
Vbeda 6 de Linares.' Id., 241. ' Da Baeza nell' Andaluzia. Era membruto, 
ombroso, e doppio.' Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 8. 'D'une laideur extreme; 
sa duplicite" et sa f ourberie le rendaient un homme peu sur, ' says Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 53, with his not unusual hasty elaboration. 
Portrait in Prescott's Mex. (Mex. 1844), i. 421; also in Zamacois, Hist. Mej., 
iv. 254. 


tion. Brave, intrepid, and with a good head, he was 
equally determined in speech and in deportment, yet 
with a faultless obedience and loyalty that won the 
confidence and esteem of his chief. With a strict eye 
to discipline, he possessed also a kind, humane dispo- 
sition, which gained the love and respect of his men, 
whose comfort he studied far more than his own. 
Plain in dress, and modest in manner and aspiration, 
he was free fron\ the greed which tainted so many 
around him. A soldier in all qualities of the heart 
and mind, he was also physically fitted for one. In 
battle he was as wrathful and as beautiful as Apollo 
when he slew the Python. The robust frame, with 
its high chest and broad shoulders, supported a full 
face adorned with short, curly, nut-brown hair. The 
powerful voice, inclining at times to a lisp, was ex- 
hibited more in the issue of brief command than in 
conversation ; for Don Gonzalo was as energetic to act 
as he was chary of words. The slightly bow-legged 
limbs indicated an early training for the saddle. 
Indeed, equestrian exercises were his delight, and his 
horse Motilla, a chestnut with a white foot and a star 
on the forehead, is described by Bernal Diaz as the 
finest he ever saw. Sandoval stands before us not 
only as an admirable man, but as an ideal officer, in 
his combined qualities of juvenile ardor and prudence, 
valor and humanity, modesty of disposition and purity 
of heart. Cortes spoke of him after his death with 
feelings of deepest regret, and represented him to the 
emperor as one of the finest soldiers in the world, fit 
to command armies. 7 

In Velazquez de Leon we find another admirable 
officer, who possesses many traits in common with 
Sandoval. He is described as about four years older 
than that chivalrous youth, with a well formed, power- 
ful frame, fine chest and shoulders, full face, set in a 

7 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vei'dad., 240, 246; Clavigero, StoriaMess., iii. 8; Por- 
trait and signature in Carbajal JEspinosa, Hist. Mex. , ii. 254, 686. Portrait 
in Zamacoin, Hist. Mcj., ii. 485, and in Armin, Alte Mex., 217. 


somewhat curled and carefully tended beard. He 
was open with the hand, ready with the sword, and 
an expert horseman. He bore the reputation of 
having killed a prominent and rich man in a duel in 
Espanola, a deed which had obliged him to seek refuge 
in Cuba with his relation Velazquez. 

The most devoted adherent of Velazquez, although 
not bound to him by ties of relationship, was his 
ancient mayordomo mayor, Diego de Ordaz, 8 a power- 
ful man, of large stature, with full face, thin, dark 
beard, and stuttering speech. As a leader of foot- 
soldiers, for he did not ride, he gained the reputation 
of possessing great daring, as well as a good head; 
and among comrades he ranked as a liberal man and 
a conversationalist. Of the other captains, Francisco 
de Salcedo, reputed chief butler to the admiral of 
Castile, bore the sobriquet of 'Dandy' from his spruce 
manner; 9 and Francisco de Morla is spoken of as a 
valiant soldier and good horseman. 10 

On the way over the vessels were dispersed by a 
squall, but were gathered by the flag-ship, some at 
Catoche, and some at Port San Juan, on the north 
end of Cozumel Island, where they all finally congre- 
gated. 11 Quite early in the adventure Cortes was 

8 Also written Ordas. ' Natural de tierra de Campos.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. 
Verdad., 246. Portrait in Carbnjal Esphwsa, Hist. Mex., ii. 192. 

9 ' Saucedo, natural de Medina de Rioseco; y porque era muy pulido, le 
llama vamos, el galan.' Be mat Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 240. This captain joins 

10 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 240-7, gives a long list of notices of members 
of the expedition, many of whom will receive attention during the course of 
the narrative. 

1 1 San Juan, Ante Portam Latinam. See also Carta de Ayunt. de Vera Cruz, 
in ( 'ortcs, Cartas, 9. Several authors, following Gomara, it seems, refer to one 
vessel as missing, but as this is identified with Escobar's, sent, according to 
Bernal Diaz, on a special exploring expedition to Laguna de TOminos, the 
view of the latter author is probably more correct. It is not likely that a 
captain would have sailed so far beyond the rendezvous, and there waited for 
weeks the chance arrival of the fleet. In Tapia, Relation, in Icazbalceta, 
Col. Doc, ii. 557, are references yet more vague to a missing vessel. During 
the gale Morla's vessel was struck by a wave, which unshipped her rudder. 
His signal of distress caused the flag-ship to heave to till daybreak. The rud- 
der was then discovered floating close by, and tying a rope to his body, Morla 
leaped into the sea to aid in replacing it. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 16; LasCasas, 
Hist, hid., iv. 458. 


called on to spread before his unbridled associates 
the quality of discipline they might expect. It seems 
that Alvarado arrived at Cozumel Island two days 
before the fleet, and had begun to carry matters 
with rather a hisrh hand for a subordinate. He had 
entered two towns, taken three persons captive, and 
seized some property of the natives. "Is this the way 
to win to our purpose barbarous peoples?" exclaimed 
the indignant Cortes. For failing to bring the vessel 
to the rendezvous at Cape San Antonio, Alvarado's 
pilot was placed in chains. A little later, seven sailors 
were flogged for theft and perjury. The captives 
were soothed with presents and liberated, the stolen 
articles restored, and with the aid of Melchor, the in- 
terpreter, the fears of the natives were assuaged. 

In answer to his inquiries regarding the captive 
Christians, Cortes was informed that two days' journey 
in the interior of Yucatan bearded men had been seen 
by Cozumel traders, not long since, whereupon two 
vessels were despatched to Catoche under Ordaz, who 
was there to await, one week, the return of three 
Indian messengers, sent with presents to redeem the 
captives, and bearing a letter telling them where to 
find their countrymen. 12 

While waiting events, Cortes landed the horses to 
explore and forage, and employed the otherwise unoc- 

12 The letter, as given in Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 17, and Gomara, 
Hist. Max., 19, differs somewhat in tenor, and the former assigns eight days, 
the latter six, as the time Ordaz was to wait. Gomara writes further that 
the Indians were at first afraid to venture on such an errand into the interior, 
but the large reward overcame their fears, and they were carried to the cape 
in Escalante's vessel, escorted by Ordaz in two other craft manned by fifty 
men. Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 20, thinks there could be no danger for 
messengers. ' Escondieron [the letter] a vno entre los cabellos, que trahian 
largos y trenzados, rebucltos, a la cabeca: y embi6 los dos nauios de menos 
porte .... con veynte ballesteros, y escopeteros . . . . y que el menor boluiesse a 
dar cuenta de lo que auian hecho. ' Jlerrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. vi. ; Peter 
Martyr, dec. iv. cap. vi. ' Envio un bergantin 6 cuatro bateles .... que esper- 
arien cinco dias, e no mas.' Tapia, Relacion, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 556. 
Las Casas, Hist, hid., iv. 459, states that the cacique of Cozumel, eager to 
communicate freely with Cortes, sent messengers to the lord owning one of 
the captives, and asked him to sell or lend the man. Cortes at first proposed 
to rescue the captive with an armed force, but the cacique suggested a ransom 
as more effective. Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 70; Landa, fiel. de Yuc., 24-6. 


cupied men in military exercise. The islanders were 
highly entertained, and thought the animals giant deer 
and the ships water-houses. In return they gave the 
strangers cause for wonderment not unmixed with 
wrath; for this was a sacred island, in a heathen sense, 
and thither, from distant parts, resorted pilgrims with 
offerings for sanguinary shrines. And when one feast- 
day the priests of Baal, within their temple, arose 
before the people and called upon the gods of their 
fathers, the excited Spaniards could not contain them- 
selves; Cortes stood forth and preached his religion 
to the indignant savages, but failing in the desired 
effect, the Spaniards rushed upon the idols, hurled 
them from their seats, and planted in their place the 
emblem of their faith. 13 

In due time Ordaz returned without the lost 
Christians, greatly to the disappointment of Cortes, 
who desired them particularly for interpreters. The 
fleet then set sail, but was obliged to return, owing 
to the leaky condition of Escalante's vessel. While 
engaged upon repairs one day, the Spaniards being 
encamped upon the shore, a canoe was seen approach- 
ing the harbor from the mainland. Andres de Tapia 
and others hastened to the landing, where presently 
the boat arrived, and four tawny undressed figures 
stepped upon the shore. One was bearded, and his 
form a little bent, and as he advanced before the 
others there was eager questioning in the piercing 
glance he threw about him. Presently he cried out 
in ill-articulated speech, " Senores, sois cristianos ? " 
On being assured that they were, he dropped upon 

13 Two carpenters, Alonso Yafiez and Alvaro Lopez, claim the honor of 
having raised the first cross for the church in New Spain. To this the natives 
made no great objection, the cross having already with them a religious 
significance; and surely the sanctified effigy of the benign Mary was a more 
beautiful object to look upon than their idols. See Native Races, iii. 468-70. In 
one of the temples ' auia vna cruz de cal tan alta como diez palmos.' Gomara, 
Hist. If ex., 24. Las Casas objects to the compulsory mode of conversion used 
by Cortes and his holy company, and devotes a long paragraph to depicting 
the folly and evil thereof. Hist. Intl., iv. 4G0-2, 470. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vcr- 
dad., IS, describes the idolatrous rite, and Prescott, Mex., i. 239-71, speaks 
of Cortes as a reformer. 


his knees, and with tears falling from uplifted eyes 
thanked God for his deliverance. Tapia saw it at a 
glance; this was one of the captives. Hastily step- 
ping forward, he caught the uncouth object in his 
arms, raised him from the ground with a tender em- 
brace, and conducted him to camp. u But for the 
beard it would have been difficult, from his outward 
appearance, to believe him a European. Naturally 
of a dark complexion, he was now bronzed by ex- 
posure, and entirely naked except for a breech-cloth 
and sandals. His crown was shorn, and the remain- 
ing hair braided and coiled upon the head. 15 In his 
hand he carried a net containing, among other things, 
a greasy prayer-book. On being presented to Cortes 
he seemed dazed, scarcely knowing whether to call 
himself savage or civilized. At best he could not 
all at once throw himself out of the former and into 
the latter category; for when his Indian' companions 
squatted themselves before the captain-general, and 
with the right hand, moistened by the lips, touched 
the ground and then the region of the heart in token 
of reverence, impelled by habit he found himself doing 
the same. Cortes was touched. Lifting him up, he 
threw over the naked Spaniard his own yellow mantle, 

14 This is the substance of Tapia's own account. Relation, in Icazbalceta, 
Col. Doc, ii. 556-7. Others differ somewhat in the number of Indians who 
arrive in the canoe, in the mode of addressing Tapia, and other points. Ac- 
cording to Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 19, some soldiers out hunting report 
the approach of the canoe, whereupon Cortes sends Tapia to ascertain its ob- 
ject. Seven Indians of Cozuniel land, and, on seeing the Spaniards advance, 
are about to flee in alarm, but one of them reassures the rest, and calls out, 
' Dios, y Santa Maria, y Sevilla.' While he is embraced by Tnpia, a soldier 
rushes to announce the news to Cortes. According to Gomara, Hist. Max., 20, 
it is meal-time and first Sunday in Lent when the news of a canoe with four 
Indians is brought. The fleet had been prevented by a storm from sailing 
on the previous day. 

15 This was a common form of Maya hair-dress. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 
19, and some others describe him as shorn like a slave; but this man appears 
to have risen from that condition. He gives him an extra pair of sandals, 
hanging at the waist, a dilapidated mantle or cloth — called a net by Herrera — 
wherein is tied a thumbed prayer-book, and upon the shoulder he places an 
oar. This oar is brought into camp by almost every writer, regardless of the 
fact that it did not belong to him and could no longer be of use. Gomara, 
Jus f . Mex., 29, gives him bow and arrows. Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 401, 
remarks that in the prayer-book was kept an account of time, which marked 
this day as a Wednesday, while it really was Sunday. 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 


lined with crimson. He asked his name, and the man 
said he was Geronimo de Aguilar, ordained in minor 
orders, a native of Ecija, and relative of the Licen- 
ciado Marcos de Aguilar, known to Cortes in Es- 
panola. He and Gonzalo Guerrero, a sailor and a 
native of Palos, were the sole survivors of the ex- 
pedition which, nearly eight years before, had left 
Darien for Espanola, under Valdivia, whose ship- 
wreck and horrible fate I have elsewhere detailed. 16 

If backward at the beginning in the use of his tongue, 
Aguilar talked well enough when started, giving his 
thrilling experiences in words which filled his lis- 
teners with amazement. On escaping from the lord of 
Maya, who had eaten Valdivia and the others with the 
same relish that the Cyclops ate the companions of 
Ulysses, the survivors threw themselves on the mercy 
of a neighboring cacique called Ahkin Xooc. He with 
his successor, Taxmar, enslaved them, and treated 
them so severely that all died but himself and the 
sailor, Guerrero. There is a law of relativity which 
applies to happiness and misery, no less than to mental 
and physical consciousness. By ways widely different 
these two men had saved themselves; the former by 
humility and chastity, the latter by boldness and 
sensuality. Securing services under Nachan Kan, 
cacique of Chetumal, the sailor adopted the dress and 
manners of the people, rapidly rose in favor, became 
the chief captain of his master, married a woman of 
rank, and began to rear a dusky race; so that when 
the messengers of Cortes arrived he declined to be 
ransomed. 17 Then blushing beneath. his tawny skin 
the sanctified Aguilar went on to tell of his own 
temptations and triumphs, in which he had been as 
lonely as was Ethan Brand in hugging the unpardon- 

16 See Hist. Cent. Am., i. 350, this series. 

17 Aguilar intimated another reason why Guerrero remained, that he had 
taken part in the fights against Cordoba and Grijalva at Potonchan, which 
i.s very doubtful. Then it is said that his face was tattooed and his lips turned 
down, and when Aguilar besought him to go the children clung to him, and 
the wife first begged, and then threatened, to make Aguilar desist. Cbgolludo, 
Hist. Yuccdhan, 23; Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vcrdad., 18-19; Torquemada, i. 370. 


able sin. So sublime had been his patience and his 
piety under the drudgery at first put upon him, that he 
too rose in the estimation of his master, who was led 
to entrust him with more important matters. For in all 
things pertaining to flesh and spirit he acted with so 
much conscientiousness that Taxmar, a stranger to those 
who loved virtue for its own sake, suspected the motives 
that inspired his captives. To test his wonderful in- 
tegrity, for he had noticed that Aguilar never raised 
his eyes to look upon a woman, Taxmar once sent 
him for fish to a distant station, giving him as sole 
companion a beautiful girl, who had been instructed 
to employ all her arts to cause the Christian to break 
his vow of continency. Care had been taken that 
there should be but one hammock between them, and 
at night she bantered him to occupy it with her; but 
stopping his ears to the voice of the siren, he threw 
himself upon the cold, chaste sands, and passed the 
night in peaceful dreams beneath the songs of heaven. 18 
Cortes smiled somewhat sceptically at this and like 
recitals, wherein the sentiments expressed would have 
done honor to Scipio Africanus; nevertheless, he was 

18 This is in substance the adventures of Aguilar, as related at length in Her- 
reixi, dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. vii.-viii., followed by Torquemada, i. 370-72, and Cogol- 
ludo, Hist. Yucathan, 24-9, and prettily, though hastily, elaborated in Irving'* 
Columbus, iii. 290-301, and other modern writers. On reaching Catoche and 
finding Ordaz gone, he proceeded to Cozumel, in the hope of finding some of 
the Spaniards. ' Era Aguilar estudiante quando passo a las Indias, y hombre 
discreto, y por esto se puede creer qualquiera cosa del,' concludes Herrera, 
as if suspecting that the version may be questioned. Prudence is shown in the 
care with which he gradually accustomed himself to the change of food and 
fmbitsonagain joining the Spaniards. Peter Martyr, dec. iv. cap. vi., relatesthat 
Aguilar's mother became insane on hearing that her son had fallen among can- 
nibals — who brought her the news it is hard to guess — and whenever she beheld 
flesh roasting, loud became the laments for his sad fate. This is repeated in 
G'omara, Hist. Mex., 22; Martinez, Hist. Nat. Nueva Esp., ii. xxiv. Her- 
rera, who cannot avoid mixing in all the romance possible, makes him search 
for means to cross the strait. He finds at last a leaky canoe half buried in the 
sand, and in this frail skiff he and the Indian companion presented by his late 
master managed to gain the island. Others give him Cortes' messengers for 
companions. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 18, very reasonably permits him to 
hire a canoe with six rowers, for he has beads to pay for it, and canoes would 
not be wanting, since the island was a resort for pilgrims, particularly at this 
very time. Mendieta, Hist. Ecfes., 175-76, fails not to recognize, in the com- 
pulsory return of the fleet to Cozumel, and in the finding of Aguilar, the hand 
of God; and Torquemada, i. 370, eagerly elaborates the miraculous features in 
the appearance of this Aaron, who is to be the mouth-piece of his Moses. 


exceedingly glad to secure this man, even though he 
had been a little less chaste and brave and cunning" 
than he represented himself to be. He found him 
not only useful but willing, for this humble holy man 
was a great fighter, as he had said, and was very 
ready to lead the Spaniards against his late master, 
though pledged to peace and friendliness. 

Early in March 19 the fleet again sailed, and after 
taking shelter from a gale behind Punta de las Mu- 
jeres for one or two days, passed round Catoche and 
along the Yucatan coast, hugging the shore to note 
its features, and sending forth a growl of revenge 
on passing Potonchan. Boca de Terminos was now 
reached, whither Escobar had been sent in advance 
to explore, and within the entrance of a little harbor, 
to which a boat's crew was guided by blazings, a 
letter was found, hidden in a tree, from which cir- 
cumstance the harbor was named Puerto Escondido. 
The letter reported a good harbor, surrounded by 
rich lands abounding in game; and soon after the 
fleet met the exploring vessel, and learned of the im- 
portant acquisition to the expedition in Grijalva's 
lost dog. 20 Off Rio de Tabasco the fleet came to 
anchor, and the pilots knowing the bar to be low, 
only the smaller vessels entered the river. Remem- 
bering the friendly reception accorded Grijalva, the 
Spaniards were surprised to find the banks lined with 
hostile bands, forbidding them to land. Cortes there- 
fore encamped at Punta de los Palmares, on an island 
about half a league up the river from the mouth, and 

19 Bernal Diaz says the 4th, which is rather close reckoning, according to 
his own account, for two days are required to reach Cozumel from Cape San 
Antonio, nine days are consumed by Ordaz in waiting for the captives, and 
four days for repairing Escalante's leaky vessel. This alone brings us from 
February 18th, the date of leavxng Cape San Antonio, to March 5th, without 
counting a probable day or two for preparing, starting, and returning. 

20 A greyhound bitch, really of great service to the hunters. Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 20, starts Escobar from Punta de las Mujeres. Vetanccrf, 
Teatro 31ex., Pt. iii. 112. Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 29, while adopting on 
hearsay the more general supposition that a missing vessel is found here, follows 
Diaz in the account of the exploring vessel. Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 25-6, and 
Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. xi. , evidently attributes the name Escondido to 
the finding of the missing vessel. 


not far from the capital of the ISTonohualcas, a large 
town of adobe and stone buildings on the opposite 
mainland, protected by a heavy stockade. 21 

In answer to a demand for water, the natives there- 
about pointed to the river; as for food, they would 
brin^ some on the morrow. Cortes did not like the 
appearance of things; and when, during the night, 
they began to remove their women and children from 
the town, he saw that his work must begin here. 
More men and arms were landed on the island, and 
Avila was ordered to proceed to the mainland with 
one hundred men, gain the rear of the town, and 
attack at a given signal. 22 In the morning a few 
canoes arrived at the island with scanty provisions, 
all that could be obtained, the natives said; and 
further than this, the Spaniards must leave: if they 
attempted to penetrate the interior, they would be 
cut off to a man. Cortes answered that llis duty to 
the great king he served required him to examine the 
country and barter for supplies. Entering the vessels, 
he ordered them to advance toward the town ; and in 
the presence of the royal notary, Diego de Godo}^, he 
made a final appeal for peace, as required by Spanish 
law, casting upon the natives the blame for the 
consequences of their refusal. The reply came in 

21 Mille quingentorum passuum, ait Alaminus nauclerus, et domornm 
quinque ac viginti millium .... egregie lapidibus et calce fabrefectae. ' Peter 
Martyr, De Iimvlis, 14. 'A poco mas de media legua que subian por el, 
(river) vieron vn gran pueblo con las casas de adoues y los tejados de paja, el 
qual estaua cercado de madera, con bien gruessa pared y almenas, y troneras 
para flechar. ' Halls and temples are also referred to : ' Mas no tiene vegente 
y cinco mil casas.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 26-37. ' Punta de los Palmares 
[v, here Grijalva also camped], que estava del pueblo de Tabasco otro media 
legua.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 20. Montanus, Nieuwe Weereld, 77, 
follows Gomara and Martyr, in calling the pueblo Potonchan ; so does Helps, 
Span. Conq., ii. 260-4, who frequently reveals the superficiality of his re- 
searches. Brasseur de Bourbourg calls it Centla. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 58. 
The stockade defences are described in detail in Soils, Hist. Mex., i. 93-4. 

11 ' Mando poner en cada vn batel tres tiros.' Avila received one hundred 
Soldiers, including ten cross-bowmen, and took a route leading across creeks 
and marshes to the rear of the pueblo. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 20. 
'Sefialo Cortes dos capitanes con cada cienticinquento Espafioles. Que fueron 
Alonso di Auila, y Pedro de Aluarado. ' A ford was found half a league above 
the camp. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 27; Peter Martyr, dec. iv. cap. vii., send3 
one hundred and fifty men by different routes. The testimony favors the 
supposition that Avila forded the river. 


the form of yells, mingled with the noise of conchs, 
trumpets, and drums, and a shower of arrows. The 
Spaniards drove their prows forward into the mud. 
The Indians crowded round in canoes to prevent their 
landing. A well directed volley at once cleared the 
way, and notified Avila to attack. Panic-stricken at 
the strangeness and suddenness of it all, the natives 
fell back, but rallied at the call of their leaders, and 
poured a shower of arrows on the Spaniards as they 
threw themselves into the water to wade ashore, 
receiving them at the point of their lances as they 
reached the bank. Tabasco's men were powerful and 
brave. The charge of cowardice had been flung at 
them by their neighbors for having been friendly with 
the Spaniards on former occasions, and they were now 
determined to vindicate their character for courage. 
Once on solid ground the Spaniards rang their battle- 
cry of "Sus, Santiago, & ellos!" Up, Santiago, and 
at them! and drove the enemy within the stockade. 
A breach was quickly made, and the defenders chased 
some distance up the streets, where they made a stand, 
shouting " La, la, calachoni ! " Strike at the chief ! At 
this juncture Avila appeared. The natives saw the 
day was lost to them, and they turned and fled. 
The Spaniards did not pursue very far, but halted in 
an open space, where three stately temples invited to 
pillage, though little was found worth taking, except 
some maize and fowl. During the action eighteen 
Indians were killed and fourteen Spaniards wounded. 23 
In the formal taking of possession which followed, it 
was noticed by those present that mention of the 
name of Velazquez was significantly omitted. 24 

23 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 20, estimates that twelve thousand warriors 
defended the town. He himself received a wound in the thigh. Gomara, 
Hist. Mex., 29, leaves only four hundred in charge of the place. Peter 
Martyr, dec. iv. cap. vii., allows the horses to share in the battle, and places 
the warriors at four thousand. Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 474, exaggerates, 
of course, the Spanish excesses, but without giving definite statements. 

2i 'Intetaba hacer lo que despues hizo,' says Vetancvrt, Teatro 3Iex., pt. iii. 
112, in reference to the later effected independence of Velazquez. The mode 
of taking possession is thus described : Advancing with drawn sword and 
shield to a large ceiba-tree in the court-yard, Cortes struck it three times, and 


Next morning Alvarado and Francisco de Lu^c, 
each with one hundred men, were sent by different 
ways to reconnoitre and forage, with orders to return 
before dark. 25 Melchor, on being called to accompany 
one of them, was missing. Presently his clothes 
were discovered hanging on a tree, indicating that he 
had gone over to the enemy. Lugo had advanced 
not more than a league when, near a town called 
Centla, he encountered a large body of warriors, who 
attacked him fiercely and drove him back toward the 
camp. Alvarado had meanwhile been turned by an 
estuary from his course and in the direction of Lugo. 
Hearing the noise of battle he hastens to the assist- 
ance of Lugo, only to be likewise driven back by the 
ever increasing hosts, and not until Cortes came to 
the rescue with two guns did the enemy retire. 26 
The result, according to Bernal Diaz, was two of 
Lugo's men killed and eleven wounded, while fifteen 
Indians fell and three were captured. 

Nor did the matter rest here. The captives told 
Cortes that Tabasco, concerned at the arrival of so 
large a fleet which augured hostile occupation, had 
aroused the province, the assembled chiefs being also 
urged by Melchor to manfully expel the invaders, as 

announced that he took possession for the king, and would defend his right 
against all comers. The soldiers thereupon shouted their approval, declaring 
that they would sustain their captain in his challenge. Bernal Diaz, Hist. 
Verdad., 21. Zamacois compares this form with others used elsewhere. 
Hist. Mrj., x. 988. 

n The Carta del Ayunt. de Vera Cruz, in Cortes, Cartas, 15, refers to a 
certain intercourse held with natives ; on the third day the exploring parties 
start. This intercourse is spoken of by Gomara, Hist. Mex., 30, as the visit 
of twenty leading men to promise food and presents, but really to spy. The 
Spaniards were encouraged to enter the interior to barter food. Torquernada, 
i. . ,j >74 ; Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 21. Alvarado, Avila, and Sandoval are 
sent, each with eighty Spaniards and some Cuban carriers, to explore by three 
routes, and to get supplies for payment only. Gornara, Hist. Mex., 31; 
Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. xi. Three parties sent out. Tapia, lielacion, 
in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 559. Four captains sent, with over two hundred 
men. Carta Ayunt., loc. cit. 

26 Gomara, Hist. Mex., 31, states that one of the captains took refuge in 
a building in Centla town, and was there joined by the other two. All 
three now retreat to camp, whither two fleet Cubans run for aid. Herrera, 
Torquernada, and Brasseur de Bourbourg follow him. Before Cortes set out, 
says Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 32, he had repelled an attack on his own 


the people of Potonchan had done. To depart now 
would leave a stain upon the generalship of Cortes in 
the eyes of both Spaniards and Indians such as was 
not to be thought of. There must be a battle fought 
and won. To this end all the horses, cross-bows, fire- 
locks, and guns were brought on shore. Thirteen of 
the best horsemen 27 were selected to form a cavalry 
corps under the leadership of Cortes. The horses 
were provided with poitrels having bells attached, and 
the riders were to charge the thick of the enemy and 
strike at the face. Ordaz was made chief of infantry 
and artillery, the latter being in special charge of 
Mesa. 28 In order both to surprise the enemy and 
secure good ground for the cavalry, Cortes resolved to 
advance at once on Centla. It was annunciation 
day, the 25th of March, when the army left camp and 
stood before Centla, in the midst of broad maize and 
cocoa fields, intersected by irrigation ditches. The 
enemy were ready, their dark forms appearing in the 
distance under an agitated sea of glistening iztli. The 
cavalry now made a detour to gain their rear, while 
the infantry marched straight on. 29 Formidable as 
was in truth the Spanish army, the unsophisticated 
natives made light of it, and came gayly forward to 
the combat in five squadrons, of eight thousand 
warriors each, 30 as Bernal Diaz says, " all in flowing 
plumes, with faces painted in red, white, and black, 
sounding drums and trumpets, and flourishing lances 

- 7 ' Senalo treze de acauallo,' who are named as Olid, Alvarado, Puertocar- 
rero, Escalante, Montejo, Avila, Velazquez de Leon, Morla, Lares the good 
horseman to distinguish him from another Lares, Gonzalo Dominguez, Moron 
of PLzamo, and Pedro Gonzalez of Trujillo, Cortes 'being the thirteenth. 
Bt rnalDiaz, Hist. Verdad., 22 ; Solis, Hist. Jle.c, i. 106, says fifteen horses, but 
in the Carta del Ayunt. de V. Cruz, in Cortes, Cartas, 16, the number de- 
creases to ten. 

28 Gomara says the force mustered 500 men, 13 horses and 6 guns; Her- 
rera, 400 men and 12 horses. The alferez was Antonio de Villaroel. 

29 This was a favorite movement of CortCs, and as such Tapia and the Carta 
del Ayunt. de V. Cruz accept it, while Bernal Diaz and most writers state 
that the swampy ground required a circuit. 

30 An estimate based probably upon the strength of the regular Aztec 
Xiquipilli, with which the conquerors were soon to become acquainted. See 
Native Races, ii. 425. Tapia even raises the number to six squadrons.- Rcla- 
cion, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc., ii. 560. 


and shields, two-handed swords, fire-hardened darts, 
and slings, and every man protected by an armor of 
quilted cotton." They would encircle these impudent 
interlopers, and did they not fall fainting beneath their 
brave yells and savage music, they would crush them 
like flies. And by way of beginning, they sent forth 
a cloud of arrows, stones, and charred darts, wounding 
many and killing one, a soldier named Saldaha. The 
Spaniards answered with their cross-bows and fire- 
locks, and mowed the packed masses with their can- 
non. The soft soil and ditches were less to the agile 
Indian than to the heavily accoutred Spaniard. 

It adds nothing to the honor of Spanish arms to 
throw in at this juncture a miracle to terrify the 
already half-paralyzed Indians, who might otherwise 
prove too strong for their steel-clad assailants; but 
the records compel me. While in the dire embrace 
of heathen hordes, midst thrust and slash' and crash 
of steel and stone, the enemy hewn down and driven 
back only to give place to thrice the number, behold, 
upon a gray -spotted steed, a heavenly horseman 
appeared, and from a slight eminence overlooking the 
bloody field he frowned confusion on the foe. The 
heathen warriors were stricken powerless, enabling 
the Spaniards to form anew; but when the horseman 
vanished, the Indians rallied. Thrice, with the same 
effect, the awful apparition came and went. 31 Then 

31 Cort6s, on coming up and being told of this, shouted, ' Onward, com- 
panions ! God is with us!' lidacioi/, in IcazbateHa, Col. Doc, ii. 559-GO. 
Gomara, who fervently adopts the story, states that the rider was one of the 
apostles, in the person of Morla. 'Todos dixeron, que vieron por tres vezes al 
del cauallo rucio picado....y que era Santiago nuestro patron. Fernando 
Cortes mas queriaquefuessesan Pedro, su especial auogado. . . .aim tambien los 
Indios lo notaron . . . . De los prisioneros que se tomaro se supo esto. ' Hist. 
Hex., 32-3. Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 72-3, gives arguments to 
show that it could have been none other than Santiago, as the patron of Span- 
iards. After a struggle with his pious fears, Bernal Diaz ventures to observe 
that Gomara may be right, but ' I, unworthy sinner, was not graced to see 
either of those glorious apostles.' Testimony was taken about the battle, 
and had this occurred it would have been spoken of. ' I say that our vic- 
tory was by the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in that battle the Indians 
were so numerous that they could have buried us with handfuls of earth.' 
Hist. Verdad., 22-3. Las Casas scouts the story as a fabrication of Cortes, 
written down by ' his servant Gomara,' in ' his false history. ' Jllst.Iud.,ivA77. 


there were horsemen indeed, more real to the Span- 
iards, but none the less spectral to the Indians. They 
had been detained by the marshes intervening; and 
now, with swords and helmets glittering, they rose 
in the enemy's rear, and midst clang of arms and 
shouts of Santiago y San Pedro, they threw them- 
selves with terrible effect upon him. What could 
the Indians do? Those that were not trampled or 
cut to death turned and fled, and the Spaniards pos- 
sessed the field. "And this was the first preaching 
of the gospel in New Spain, by Cortes," remarks the 
caustic Las Casas. 32 

The Spaniards drew up at a grove to return thanks 
for this great victory. A large number of the enemy 
were slain. Sixt}^ of their own number were wounded, 
and two lay dead; eight horses had been scratched, 
and their wounds were cauterized and anointed with 
the fat of dead Indians. 33 On returning to camp two 

32 The bishop forgets the sermon before the idols cast down at Cozumel. 

33 Two Spaniards fell, and over 800 Indians lay dead, so said their country- 
men. Bernal, Diaz, Jlixt. Vcrdad., 22-3. Over 70 Spaniards were wounded, 
and more than 300 Indians were slain in the pursuit alone. Over 100 men 
fell sick from heat and bad water, but all recovered. Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 33. 
Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. xi., allows no killed among the Spaniards, while 
over 1000 Indians are laid low. Torqvemada, i, 375. Three Spaniards are 
killed and GO wounded. Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 113. The Ayunia 
miento of Vera Cruz, in its letter to the Emperor, 10 July, 1519, for obvious 
reasons lowers the figures to twenty wounded Spaniards, of whom none died, 
and to 220 dead Indians, out of 40,000 engaged. Cortes, Cartas, 17. Finally 
comes Las Casas with the other extreme of 30,000 souls, said to have been 
cruelly slaughtered in this first great battle of Cortes. Hist. Ind., iv. 477. 
Quite a list of misdeeds are here raked up, or invented rather, against 
the Spaniards in the West-Indisclte Spieghel, Amsterdam, 1624, a curious little 
quarto, designed for Dutch traders in America, and dedicated to their West 
India Company. The author is called Athanasium Inga. ' Peruaen, uyt Cusco 
gheboren, die dit alles, soo door onder vindinghe als door transpositie en overset 
tinghe sijnder Voor-Ouderen, hier te Lande ons overghedraghen heeft, ; says 
Wachter, in the preface. The volume opens with a lengthy description of the 
Antilles, but the remaining text is wholly devoted to the Spanish colonies on the 
main, mingled without order, and interspersed with special chapters on navi- 
gation and coast routes for the benefit of traders. Beside the usual descrip- 
tion of physical and political geography, with particular reference to natural 
resources and aboriginal customs, several voyages are described, mainly to 
point out sailing directions and the progress of discovery, while the conquest 
period is told with some minuteness, but garbled with the idea of exposing 
the avarice and cruelty of the hated Spaniards. This is also the object of 
nearly all the neatly engraved copper- plates. The map extends Hudson 
Bay very close to the Pacific coast, where a faintly outlined strait is visible 
some distance above California Island. The part relating to Mexico, includ- 


of five captives, leading men, were sent with presents 
to the cacique to represent the danger of further hos- 
tility, and to propose a council of peace. Tabasco was 
very ready to lay down arms, and he sent a propitia- 
tory offering of fowl, fried fish, and maize bread by 
messengers with blackened faces and dressed in rags. 
Cortes answered with a reprimand, "Tell your master, 
if he desires peace he must sue for it, and not send 
slaves." Tabasco hastened to comply, and sent imme- 
diately to Cortes an embassy of forty chiefs, richly 
clad and walking in stately procession, followed by a 
file of slaves bearing presents. Low bowing before 
the bearded assembly, and swinging before them the 
censer in token of reverence, the ambassador implored 
pardon, and proffered submission. " The blame is all 
your own," said Cortes, with severity. The Indians 
acquiesced, though it puzzled them to know for what 
they were to blame. Cortes further informed them 
that the great king, his master, had sent him to 
scatter blessings, if they were found deserving ; if not, 
to let loose upon them the caged lightning and the 
thunder which he carried. Whereat the gun charged 
for the occasion was fired, and as the noise rever- 
berated over the hills and the ball went crashing 
through the trees, the Indians fell prostrate with 
fear, and the noble Europeans were proud of their 

Reassured against further punishment, the next 
trick played upon them was to tie a mare in the 
bushes in sight of a stallion which they paraded be- 
fore their visitors; and when he neighed and reared 
and plunged to get to his mate, the natives were told 
that the great beast was angry because of the peace 
that was being made, and only further gifts would 
pacify him. 

ing some brief references to Central America, occupies about one third of the 
volume, and treats chiefly of the Conquest. The book is remarkable for its 
black-letter text, with marginals in the same type, and for its title-page, with 
the figures of ' Montenchuma ' and 'Atabaliba' surrounded by battle-scenes 
and Indian industrial operations. 


On the following morning Tabasco presented him- 
self in person, attended by a large retinue, and bring- 
ing presents, among which were some gold ornaments 
of little value and twenty female slaves. The terms 
dictated by Cortes were that they should return their 
women and children to the village within two days, in 
token of their good faith, and that the treacherous 
Melchor should be delivered up. But the unfortunate 
interpreter had already suffered death in return for his 
bad advice. It was useless to demand gold, for there 
was little or none here. So they proceeded at once 
to expound the doctrines of their faith; to lay before 
them the truths of the gospel which they had come 
so far to bring. An altar was erected in the chief 
temple on which was placed a large cross. From this 
altar Father Olmedo preached to the natives, and 
here were baptized the first converts to the church 
in New Spain, consisting of the twenty female slaves, 
who were afterward distributed among the leaders. 
Then followed the ceremonial tender of allegiance by 
the chiefs of Tabasco's province to the Spanish king, 
and the formal naming of the large town, which was 
called Santa Maria de la Victoria, in commemoration 
of the victory. 34 

Palm Sunday being at hand, it was resolved to 
celebrate it in such a manner as to further impress 
the natives. Attired in their most brightly colored 
garments, with palms in their hands and banners aloft, 

34 ' Y pusose nombre a aquel pueblo, Santa Maria de la Vitoria, e assi se 
llama agora la villa de Tabasco.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 24. ' Potan- 
chanum dicitur ab accolis oppidum .... Yictoriam nostri appellarunt. ' Peter 
Martyr, De Fnsvlis, 14; copied in Gomara, Hist. Mex., 36. Referring to the 
battle of Centla,'Clavigero writes: ' e per niemoria vi fondarono poi una pic- 
cola citta col nome della Madonna delta Vibtoria, la quale su per lungo tempo 
la capitale di quella Provincia .... Si spopolo del tutto verso la meta del secolo 
passato. ' A later foundation received the name of Villahermosa. Storia, Mess. , 
iii. 11. This is based on a statement by Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 22, and 
to reconcile this with the note above, it must be supposed that the Nonohualca 
capital was removed to the site of the battle-field when the Spaniards settled. 
Other authors either confound the points or avoid them by a vague reference. 
Victoria was founded by Cortes in 1519. Ateedo, Die, v. 305. It is strange 
that the chief town is not referred to under its native name, for Potonchan 
is evidently a mistake by Peter Martyr. 


the Spaniards marched in solemn procession, to har- 
monious chants, about the temple; and when these 
doughty men of war humbled themselves before the 
symbols of their faith, the wondering heathen thought 
that great indeed must be the god worshipped by 
such beings. After commending the sacred emblems 
to the care of the chiefs, with a promise to send holy 
men to teach them the true faith, and with assurances 
of royal protection, the Spaniards bade the Nonohual- 
cas farewell, and were shortly on their way again. 

. Keeping close to the shore for purposes of observa- 
tion, the several places observed and named by Grijalva 
were pointed out to Cortes and commented upon by 
those who had accompanied the former expedition. 
Certain of the new captains took umbrage at this 
assumption of superior knowledge, accompanied by 
liberal proffers of advice; and one of them, the polished 
Puertocarrero, broke out in a strain of pleasant sar- 
casm. " It seems to me, senor," he said, taking the 
incidents of a well-known romance for his text, "as 
if these gentlemen would enlighten you, in the words 
of the father of Montesinos: 

Behold France, Montesinos; 
Behold Paris, the city; 
Behold the waters of Douro, 
Where they fall into the sea ! 

Now I would humbly suggest that your worship 
yourself should seek out rich lands and learn to 
govern them wisely." Catching the significance of 
the words, Cortes replied: "Let God only grant su^ 
cess to our arms, as he did to Paladin Roldan, and 
with such gentlemen as yourself to aid me I shall well 
know what to do." 

Gliding past islas Blanca and Verde, the fleet 
anchored behind San Juan de Ulua late on Thursday 
in passion week. 



Home of Mexican Civilization — The Border Land of Savagism — Con- 
figuration of the Country — The Nahuas and the Mayas — Toltecs, 
Chichimecs, and Aztecs — The Valley of Mexico — Civil Polity of 
the Aztecs — King Ahuitzotl — Montezuma Made Emperor — Charac- 
ter of the Man — His Career — The First Appearing of the Span- 
iards not Unknown to Montezuma — The Quetzalcoatl Myth- 
Departure of the Fair God — Signs and Omens concerning his Re- 
turn — The Coming of the Spaniards Mistaken for the Fulfilment 
of the Prophecy — The Door Opened to the Invader. 

Before entering upon the crusade which was so 
painfully to affect the destinies of this vast interior, 
let us cast a brief glance upon the country and its 
inhabitants, and particularly on that idiosyncrasy of 
the aboriginal mind which opened the door to the 
invaders. The first two subjects are fully treated in 
the first, second, and fifth volumes of my Native Races 
of the Pacific States to which I would refer the reader, 
being able here to give only an outline of what in 
detail is an exceedingly interesting phase of indigenous 

This development awoke to consciousness in the 
forms of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, the former 
occupying the northern portion of that tropical table- 
land which rises to salubrious heights between latitudes 
22° and 11°, and the latter the southern portions. 
Round the opaque lowland edges of this heaven-en - 
lightened interior the mind of man seemed also dark 


and low, dwarfed by sandy sweeps, or overshadowed 
by redundant foliage; yet it was not altogether free 
from the influence of its neighbors, for the people of 



the tierras calientes bordering this elevation were 
further removed from savagism than their more 
northern and southern brethren. The valley of 
Mexico, the Anahuac of the Aztecs, was situated 
between the two principal ranges, the Pacific branch 
and the Atlantic branch of the Sierra Madre, under 
which name the great cordillera here presents itself, 
coming in from the north-west, flattening 1 near the 
centre, and reuniting before reaching Tehuantepec. 
Eventually Anahuac overspreads the whole plateau. 
Cross the continent on the nineteenth parallel and 
you will reach the greatest elevation and see the 
highest mountains in this vicinity. Indeed, from the 
plain of Puebla, whereabout lay the walled town of 
Tlascala, you may take in Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, 
and Orizaba at one view. Within seventy leagues 
from Vera Cruz inland, through the temperate valley 
of Orizaba, you may pass from a region of palms to a 
region of pines. The plains of Tabasco, upon whose 
border we have already landed and fought our battle, 
form the north-eastern part of the broad isthmus 
valley of Tehuantepec. This is bordered on the south 
by the sierra connecting the elevation of Anahuac 
with the table-land of Guatemala, whose western 
declivity breaks into parallel wooded ridges running 
due south-west. North of Anahuac the surface settles 
into wide plains between short sierras, until monot- 
onous quietude is attained in the prairies of Texas 
and New Mexico. Crossing the isthmus of Tehuan- 
tepee at a diminished altitude the cordillera rises 
again and stretches out into the broad and lofty 
ranges of Central America, where the Maya nations 
made their home. 

Earliest among the Nahua nations to stand forth 
upon the mythic record are the Toltecs, whose first 
supremacy in Anahuac is placed in the sixth century. 
Endowed by tradition with a culture surpassing that 
of their successors, the halo surrounding their name 
has been kept bright by monuments, such as the 


pyramids of Teotihuacan and Cholula. For five cen- 
turies this people flourish, sustained by a confedera- 
tion of kings whose capitals become in turn famous 
as seats of learning and of imperial splendor. Relig- 
ious strife, developing gradually into civil war, with 
attendant famine and pestilence, opens the door to 
ruder tribes, and the Toltecs pass off the stage. 
Throwing off the Toltec veil so long shielding them, 
a number of tribes now rise into distinct political 
existence, and the stronger, in connection with some- 
what ruder yet more energetic incomers, form the 
new ruling combination, the Chichimec empire. Of 
the leading power, denominated the Chichimec, 
nothing is known; but the permanency of Nahua 
language and civilization leads to the supposition that 
it is of the same race as its predecessors. In later 
times the name is also applied to the wild border 
tribes of the north. For several centuries Anahuac 
becomes the scene of intrigues and struggles between 
the different branches of the combination for the 
balance of power, during which a number of towns 
figure as dominating centres, and a number of tribes 
rise to prominence under the traditional term of 
conquerors and immigrants. Among these are the 
Aztecs, the representative nation of the Nahua civil- 
ization at the coming of the Spaniards. 

Upon opposite sides of the largest of a cluster 
of lakes which illuminate the oval valley of Mexico 
have stood, since the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, three cities, Tezcuco, Mexico, and Tlacopan, 
capitals of three confederate nations, the Acolhuas, 
the Aztecs, and the Tepanecs. To the first belonged 
the eastern portion of the valley, to the second the 
southern and western, and to the third a small 
portion of the north-west. Of this confederation, 
Tezcuco was for a time the most powerful; Tlacopan 
was least. While keeping to their respective limits 
within the valley, beyond its classic precincts the 
three powers made common cause against the barba- 


rians. About the middle of the fifteenth century, 
under the warlike Montezuma I., Mexico attained 
the supremacy, and during the next sixty years ex- 
tended her empire to the shores of either ocean. 
Within this circuit, however, were several nations 
which she never conquered; instance the Tlascaltecs, 
the Tarascos, and the Chiapanecs. Many there were 
— for example, the people of Tehuantepec, of north- 
ern Guatemala, and Soconusco, and the Miztecs and 
Zapotecs of Oajaca, whose conquest by the Aztecs 
was temporary — who either paid tribute for a time 
only, or who threw off the yoke the moment the in- 
vader's back was turned. The Matlaltzincas, west of 
the lakes, and the Huastecs and Totonacs of Vera 
Cruz, were subjugated but a few years prior to the 
appearing of the Spaniards. These coast -dwellers 
had not yet become reconciled to the rule of the in- 
terior lords, but hated them as inveterate foes; and 
herein lay one of the chief causes of success accom- 
panying the Castilian arms. Indeed, Aztec suprem- 
acy was maintained in every quarter only by constant 
war; rebellion, as soon as checked in one quarter, 
breaking out in another. Further than this, the 
Aztecs, by their overbearing spirit, had become ob- 
noxious to their allies; yet their aggressive policy 
was continued in full force by the predecessor of 
Montezuma II., Ahuitzotl, with whom war was an 
absorbing passion. 

In the civil polity of the Aztecs were elements 
which, if given free play, would by elevating the 
people raise the nation yet higher in the scale of 
domination. This did not escape the observant 
neighbors, upon whom the prospect fell with chilling 
fear, a fear by no means mitigated by the ever in- 
creasing tendency of the Mexicans for the immola- 
tion of human beings. Nor were the Aztec nobles 
pleased to see political power slipping from their 
grasp and falling into the hands of the people, among 
whom the spirit of republicanism and equality was 

Hist. Me;... Vol. I. 7 


regarded as having already gained too great ascend- 
ancy. The result was a struggle, not unlike that at 
the same time going on in Europe, between the nobil- 
ity and the commonalty, the clergy taking sides with 
the former. And at the death of Ahuitzotl the 
higher class succeeded in raising to the throne a 
person of extreme aristocratic and religious tastes, 
though humble withal, as Coriolanus could not be, to 
catch the common herd ; for when tidings of his elec- 
tion were brought him he was found sweeping the 

Montezuma, he was called, and surnamed Xocoyo- 
tzin, the younger, to distinguish him from the first 
Montezuma, known as Huehue, the elder. He was 
the son of Axayacatl and Xochicueitl, and nephew 
of the late king; and had reached only his thirty- 
fourth year when selected for the throne, in preference 
to an elder brother. The reasons alleged for this 
distinction were the possession of high qualities as 
a warrior, whose braver}^ had been tested on more 
than one field of battle ; as an adviser, whose words, 
uttered in clear, dignified tones, had been heard in 
the council with respect; and as high priest, whose 
gravity and circumspection had won him favor among 
all classes. Upon occasions he could observe the 
taciturnity which so often attracts a reputation for 
wisdom; and, moreover, he possessed a fine figure and 
a majestic presence, such as admirably suited the 
monarch. He was proficient in astronomy, picture- 
writing, and in certain esoteric branches, for which 
he showed a natural bent; likewise, he was well read 
in the history of his people, and familiar with all their 

This second Montezuma was a born prince, and 
might have been a pattern for Niccolo Macchiavelli, 
with whom he was contemporary. For, like the 
Florentine's ideal, he was talented, learned, crafty, 
and unscrupulous. Had he studied in his own lan- 
guage that immaculate manual of political ethics, The 


Prince, he could not have more faithfully followed its 
precepts. No sooner had he assumed the sceptre 
than, throwing off the mask by which he had deceived 
the plebeians, he dismissed every person of that class 
employed about the palace, and filled all vacancies, 
civil and military, from the ranks of the nobles. He 
applied himself with energy to war and diplomacy, 
in both of which he was eminently successful, and 
raised himself and his throne to the highest pinnacle 
of grandeur; whereupon he did not disdain the title of 
Emperor of the World. Notwithstanding his talents 
and accomplishments, he was exceedingly superstitious, 
surpassing in this respect many of his followers, and 
was dependent on diviners and astrologers, appeal- 
ing also to the counsels of Nezahualpilli and other 
prominent personages. Men, whom he knew, he did 
not fear; but the gods, whom he did nQt know, he 
feared exceedingly. And because he practised human 
sacrifice to propitiate them he has been called cruel, 
but the actions of a blind devotee of religion must 
not be measured by a too critical standard. There was 
nothing cruel in the wish of Caligula, however hate- 
ful and vindictive it might be, that the Roman people 
had but one head, so that he might strike it off at a 
single blow; but when he tortured men and women 
for amusement while at his meals, that was the 
quintessence of cruelty. As for honor, integrity, and 
all those virtues which go to make a man, we must 
not expect them in princes or in politicians; yet we 
may safety say that in all the generous qualities of 
mind and heart the Aztec monarch was no whit 
behind contemporary European rulers. 

From all which it is safe to say that Montezuma, 
though most magnificent and lordly among his lords, 
was not popular with the masses, and his position at 
this juncture was not of the safest. His extravagance 
exceeded all bounds; his continuous wars were expen- 
sive ; and to meet the heavy draughts upon the treas- 
ury required excessive taxation. This was made to 


weigh with special heaviness on the subjugated prov- 
inces, on which likewise was laid with peculiar aggra- 
vation the horrible burden of furnishing victims for 
human sacrifices. The successful resistance to his 
arms of several states enclosed by his conquests, or 
bordering on his domain, caused him no small un- 
happiness. There was the little republic of Tlascala, 
on the very border of the Mexican valley, which 
often he had tried to conquer, and failed. Then 
there was the Tarascan kingdom of Michoacan, on 
the western side, whose people boasted as high a 
culture as any of the lake region, which stood firm 
against all efforts of the confederation. 

With nations beyond their border little intercourse 
existed, yet Aztec traders, likewise playing spies, were 
often as far south as Nicaragua, and along: the coasts 
of Honduras and Yucatan. There is no doubt, there- 
fore, that the presence in those parts of the Spaniards 
was known to Montezuma from the first. It might 
have been like a voice from behind the clouds, the re- 
ports of Columbus and Pinzon, but the appearing of 
Cordoba and Grijalva, who talked and drew blood, 
was something more tangible. The people of Tuito, 
on the west coast of Mexico, held that before the con- 
quest a vessel was lost there, from which had landed 
more than forty persons, dressed like Spaniards, and 
whom the natives received kindly, but finally slew 
because they insisted on the worship of the cross. 1 A 
box thrown up by the waves, and containing peculiar 
clothing, gold rings, and a sword which no one could 
break, was said to have been in Montezuma's posses- 
sion. Vague as were these appearings, there was 
something painfully portentous in them. 

1 When Francisco Cortes entered the town, shortly after the fall of 
Mexico, he was met by a body of Indians with their hair tonsured like priests, and 
with crosses in their hands, headed by the chief in flowing white gown and 
scapulary. This, they explained, had been the practice of the shipwrecked 
crew, who had held up the cross as a recourse from all danger. Frejcs, Hist. 
Coiiq. t 63-4. This authority places implicit reliance in the story, and regards 
the strangers as a missionary party driven from the East Indies or China. 
Jalisco, Mem. Hist., 30-2. 


For the chief divinity of the Nahua nations was 
Quetzalcoatl, the gentle god, ruler of the air, con- 
troller of the sun and rain, and source of all prosperity. 
In the palmy days of the Toltecs he had been their 
king, the creator of their golden age, giving them 
metals, improved government, and products of spon- 
taneous growth; after which he was their god, with 
his chief shrine at Cholula, where surrounding peoples, 
even those inimical to the city, maintained temples for 
his worship. From toward the rising sun Quetzalcoatl 
had come; and he was white, with large eyes, and 
long black hair, and copious beard. After a final rule 
of twenty years at Cholula he set out for the country 
whence he came, and on reaching the seaboard of Go- 
azacoalco he sailed away on a craft of snakes. His last 
words were that one day bearded white men, brethren 
of his, perhaps he himself, would come by way of the 
sea in which the sun rises, and would enter in and 
rule the land; 2 and from that day, with a fidelity be- 
fitting Hebrews waiting the coming of their Messiah, 
the Mexican people watched for the fulfilment of this 
prophecy, which promised them a gentle rule, free 
from bloody sacrifices and oppression; but to their 
sovereign the thought gave rise to deep apprehension, 
for then his own reign must terminate. 

Thus it was that the tidings of strange sails and 
bearded white men on their eastern border were re- 
ceived at the gay capital with mingled fear and joy. 

And marvel-mongers went about the streets talking 

-» ^ . . ° 

oi the good Quetzalcoatl and his pedigree, of the signs 

and wonders that had been seen, the prodigies, oracles, 

and occult divinations, as in ancient Athens the old 

families of Olympus, with their ape-gods and bull-gods 

of Memphis, and the dog-headed monster Anubis, 

were discussed ; and as for Rome, Lucan has recorded 

2 See Native Races, iii. and v. , 25-6, for the myths relating to Quetzalcoatl, 
and to their interpretation, in which occur the characters of the Messiah and 
the apostle Saint Thomas, with whom some pious chroniclers have identified 
him. The Saint Thomas idea is advocated in Florencia, Hist. Prov. Comp. 
de Jesus, 234. 


no omens which the sages of Mexico could not now 
match. To what extent the Spanish chroniclers have 
assisted the natives in the manufacture of marvels 
I leave the reader to judge, simply recommending 
to his consideration the accompanying lengthy note; 
neither, however, fell into the madness of Canute, who 
chose the time the tide was rising, instead of when it 
was falling, to order the stay of waters. 

It was not alone in Mexico, but in distant parts, 
and on the islands, that man and nature were thus 
annoyed by the supernatural. There were found pre- 
dictions centuries old, by priests widely separated, and 
the poems of wise men, all pointing in the one direc- 
tion. The destruction of towns was predicted by a phi- 
losopher; the famine of 1505 spoke more plainly than 
words; Popocatepetl, choked by consternation, failed 
to emit his smoke for twenty days, which, however, 
was a good omen; an eclipse and an earthquake near 
together and the drowning of eighteen hundred sol- 
diers were decidedly unfavorable. Most terrible of 
all, however, were a three-headed comet in open day, a 
pyramidal light at night, and other portentous scenes, 
such as the furious uprising of the lake, the awaken- 
ing of the dead, and visits to the spirit world. 3 

3 The natives of Espaiiola are said to have received an oracle shortly be- 
fore Columbus' arrival, announcing the coming of bearded men, with sharp, 
bright swords. Vittagvtierre, Hist. Gonq. Itza. , 33. The Yucatec records abound 
in predictions to the same effect, more or less clear. The most widely quoted 
is that of Chilam Balam, high-priest of Mani, and reputed a great prophet, 
who foretold that, ere many years, there would come from the direction of 
the rising sun a bearded white people, bearing aloft the cross which he 
displayed to his listeners. Their gods would flee before the new-comers, and 
leave them to rule the land; but no harm would fall on the peaceful who 
admitted the only true God. The priest had a cotton mantle woven, to be 
deposited in the temple at Mani, as a specimen of the tribute required by the 
new rulers, and he it was who erected the stone crosses found by the Span- 
iards, declaring them to be the true tree of the world. Cogolludo, Hist. Yu~ 
cathan, 99-101, gives the prophecy at length, which is not quite so clear as the 
version which he afterward quotes from Herrera. The latter calls the priest 
Chilam Cambal, and says : ' Esta f ue la causa que preguntauan a Francisco Her- 
nandez de Cordoua, y a los suyos, si yuan de donde nacia el Sol. ' Dec. ii. lib. 
iii. cap. i. Alaman enters into a profound argument on the above, and inter- 
prets Chilam Cambal to be the Chinese for Saint Thomas. In seeking to give a 
date he mistakes the meaning of a Yucatec age and places the prophecy back 
at the beginning of the Christian era. The opening lines of the prophecy read, 
* at the end of the thirteenth age, ' which should be interpreted ' at the end of 


To us the most wonderful part of it is, not the 
wonders themselves, but that it should so happen, if 
indeed it did, that these fearful forebodings, running 

two hundred and sixty years.' The name is also given as Chilam Balan and 
Chilan Balam, the latter part savoring of the Canaanite divinity. Remesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 245-6; Gonzalez Ddvila, Teatro Ecles., i. 203-4. A priest of 
Itzalan, named Patzin Yaxun Chan, is recorded as having urged his people to 
worship the true god, whose word would soon come to them; and the high- 
priest of the same place, Na Hau Pech, prophesied that within four ages — a 
Yucatec age equals twenty of our years — news would be brought of the su- 
preme God, by men who must be received as guests and masters. Ah Ku 
Kil Chel, also a priest, spoke with sorrow of ills to come upon the people from 
the north and from the east. In the age following the date of his prediction 
no priest would be found to explain the will of their idols. Another temple 
guardian announced that in the last age idolatry would cease, and the world 
would be purified by fire. Happy he who repented ! Cogolludo, Hist. Yuca- 
than, 97—101. Several prophecies therein quoted literally are reproduced in 
Villagvtierre, Hist. Conq. Itza., 34-5, which also refers to Itzan predictions. 

Among the Mexicans, says Mendieta, predictions were current some four 
generations before the conquest of the coming of bearded men dressed in 
raiments of different color, and with caskets on their heads. Then the idols 
would perish, leaving but one supreme God; war would cease, roads would be 
opened, intercourse established, and the husband would cherish but one wife. 
Hist. Ecles., 180; Torquemada, i. 235-0. This smacks of an elaboration of 
the Quetzalcoatl promise. Nezahualcoyotl, the wise Tezcucan monarch, who 
died in 1472, left poems in which chroniclers have discovered vague allusions 
to a coming race. The reader may, perhaps, be equally fortunate if he exam- 
ine the specimens of his poems given in Natice Races, ii. 494-7. His son 
Nezahualpilli, equally celebrated as a just king and a philosopher, versed in 
the occult arts, revealed to Montezuma that, according to his astrologic 
investigations, their towns would within a few years be destroyed and their 
vassals decimated. This, he added, would soon be verified by celestial signs 
and other phenomena. Duran, Hist, hid., MS., ii. 254-7. The precursor of 
these harbingers of evil appears to have been the famine of 1505, which 
compelled many a parent to sell his children for the means to obtain food, 
while others lined the road-side with their famished bodies. The cessation of 
smoke from the volcano Popocatepetl, for twenty days, was a feature seized 
upon by the diviners as a sign of relief; and true enough, in the following 
year, the suffering people were cheered with an abundant harvest. Soon 
again their fears were roused by an eclipse and an earthquake, in the very 
inaugural year of the new cycle, 1507, and by the drowning of 1800 soldiers 
during the Miztec campaign. Almost every succeeding year confirmed their 
apprehensions by one or more signs or occurrences of an ominous nature. One 
of the most alarming was the appearance, in broad day, of a comet with three 
heads, which darted across the sky, eastward, with such speed that the tails 
seemed to scatter sparks. ' Salieron cometas del cielo de tres en tres .... pare- 

cian echando de si brasas de fuego . . . . y llevaban grandes y largas colas. ' 

Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., 170. ' Cay 6 una cometa, parecian tres estrellas. ' Saha- 
gun, Hist. Conq., i. 4; Native Ra^es, v. 466. After this, in 1507 or 1510, a 
pyramidal light, which scattered sparks on all sides, rose at midnight from 
the eastern horizon till its apex reached the zenith, where it faded at dawn. 
This continued for forty days, or for a year, according to some accounts. ' Diez 
afios antes que viniesen los espafioles. . . . duro por espacio de un aiio cada 
noche.' Sahagun, Hist. Conq., i. 3. ' Ocho afios antes de la venida de los 
espafioles, . . . .y esto se vi6 cuatro afios.' Id., Hist. Gen., ii. 271. It occurred 
in 1509, and lasted over forty days. Codex Tell. Rem., in King s'>o rough's Mex. 
Antiq.,v. 154; vi. 144. The interpreter of the Codex enters into a lengthy 


back for generations, should all converge toward the 
coming of the brethren of Quetzalcoatl at the very 
time the Spaniards appeared, and that the latter should 

argument to prove it a volcanic eruption, one of his points being that the orig- 
inal picture-writing places the light as appearing behind, or from, the mountains 
east of the city. In 1510, Ixtl'dxochitl, Hist. Chich., 278, or year five, toxtli. 
Codex CMmalpopoca, MS.; Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 139. Torquemada, who 
had no other authority for the preceding comet than Herrera, considered 
that by the comet was meant this light, i. 234. Humboldt suggests that 
the fiery pyramid may have been a zodiacal light. Astrologers announced 
that it portended wars, famine, pestilence, mortality among the lords, every 
imaginable ill, in fact, and causing one general cry of fear and lament. 
Montezuma himself was so troubled that he applied for advice to Nezahual- 
pilli, although they had not been on speaking terms for some time. This 
royal astrologer showed his apprehensions by ordering all campaigns then 
upon his hands to be suspended, and announced to his confrere that the 
disasters in store would be brought upon the empire by a strange race. 
Montezuma expressed his disbelief, and proposed a game of tlachtli to de- 
cide the interpretation. As if resigned to the fate predicted for himself, 
and desirous of showing how little he appreciated wealth and power, Neza- 
hualpilli is said to have staked on the result his kingdom against three turkey- 
cocks. The wager was not so hazardous, however, as it seemed, for the king 
of Tezcuco was a good player. After allowing Montezuma to win the first two 
points, and raising high his hopes, he stopped his exultation by scoring the rest 
for himself. Still doubtful, Montezuma called on an astrologer famous for 
his many true announcements, only to receive confirmation of Nezahualrnlli's 
utterance, whereupon the irate monarch caused the house to be pulled down 
over the diviner, who perished in the ruins. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich. , 278-9 ; 
Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mej., iii. 345-7. Clavigero, who connects the game with a 
comet, is quite earnest in asserting his belief in traditions and presages of the 
coming of Spaniards, as attested by native paintings and by witnesses of 
high standing. ' Se il Demonio pronosticava le futura calamita per ingannar 
qu6 'miserabili Popoli, il pietosissimo Dio le annunziava per disporre i loro 
spiriti al Vangelo. ' S tor ia Mess. , i. 288-9. According to Duran, the summon- 
ing of Nezahualpilli was due to a comet with an enormous tail, which burst 
upon the view of a temple-watcher as it rose in the east and settled above the 
city. Montezuma, who had been roused to witness the phenomenon, called 
on his sorcerers for an explanation, and on finding that they had seen 
nothing, had them punished for their sloth. The wise Tezcucan then came and 
presaged dire calamities, which would also afflict himself. He was resigned, 
and would retire to await death. This was to be the last interview between 
the two kings. Hist. hid. , MS . , ii. 274-85. Torquemada compares the comet to 
that which, according to Josephus, lib. vii. cap. xii. , presaged the entry of Titus 
into Judea. When Nezahualpilli returned to his palace, a hare ran into the 
halls, pursued by eager domestics, but he bade them to leave it, saying that 
even so would a strange people enter into Andhuac without resistance. Torque- 
mada, i. 21 1-12, 214. Bernal Diaz speaks of a round sign in the eastern sky, of 
a reddish green, to which was attached a streak extending eastward. The con- 
sequent predictions of war and pestilence he finds fulfilled in the campaign of 
Cortes, and in the smallpox epidemic introduced by Narvaez. Hist. Verdad. 
(Paris ed. 1837), iv. 460-1. Among the accounts of celestial signs which 
may be based on the preceding is one by Camargo, describing a brightness ob- 
served in the east by the Tlascaltecs, three hours before dawn, accompanied by 
a whirlwind of dust from the summit of Mount Matlalcueje. Remesal refers 
probably to the same whirlwind under the guise of a white cloud, like a pillar, 
which often appeared in the east before sunrise, and afterward descended upon 
the cross erected in Tlascala by the Spaniards. The natives accepted this 


be in so many respects as the good gods themselves 
were to have been. The prophecies of Isaiah are 
dim indeed and unfathomable as compared with these. 

as an intimation that the new-comers were heaven's chosen people, and 
received the cross. Hist. C'/iyapa, 304; Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 140. Gomara 
appears to connect this eastern light with a thick smoke and with the 
fiery pyramid, which were followed by a battle in the sky between bodies 
of armed men, attended with great slaughter. Some of the courtiers sur- 
rounding Montezuma while he observed this phenomenon, pointed out that 
the arms and dress of the victorious faction resembled those in the chest 
which had been washed up on the coast. He declared his conviction, 
however, that they must be relics of his divine ancestors, not of mortal beings 
who fell on a battle-field, as these forms appeared to do. He proposed, as a 
test, that they should break the divine sword. This they tried, but in vain, 
and remained mute with wonder at its flexibility and strength. Hist. Mex. , 214; 
Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. cap. ix. Mendieta places this sign in 1511. Hist. Ecles., 
179. The last celestial sign, as described by Mendieta, is a large, brilliant 
comet, which appeared the very year of the Spaniards' arrival, and remained 
immovable in the air for several days. Hist. Ecles., 180. Before Nezahualpilli 
returned to his capital, after interpreting the fiery signs, he was feasted by 
Montezuma, and the two monarchs thereupon retired to the diviners' chamber 
to search into the legends of their forefathers for further light upon the omens. 
From this circumstance grew the story that the twain had made a journey to 
the ancient home of their race. Nezahualpilli, being a conjurer, took Monte- 
zuma through the air to the Seven Caves, where they conversed with the 
brethren of their ancestors. On learning that the first named was a descend- 
ant of the great Chichimecatl Xolotl, he was offered the government of this 
region, but declined, promising, however, to return at a later date. Torque- 
mada, i. 212-13. Duran applies'to the reign of Montezuma I. a similar story, 
which is more appropriate to the present subject. Eager to acquaint his 
ancestors with the glorious achievements of their progeny, and to learn some- 
thing of the old home, this monarch sent a force of sixty sorcerers on a mission 
to Chicomoztoc, with numerous presents for Coatlicue, the mother of the di- 
vine Huitzilopochtli. Transforming themselves into animals, they reached 
the sacred region occupied by some Aztecs whom the god had left behind 
when he set out on his career of conquest. These venerable settlers were not 
a little surprised to behold in the effeminate and ephemeral specimens before 
them the descendants of that doughty leader and of his companions. On reach- 
ing the abode of the divine mother, the sorcerers found an old woman sorrow- 
ing over her lost son. The news of his glorious fate roused her interest, and 
she was induced to reveal several prophecies by her son, among them one 
concerning the coming of a strange people to wrest the land from the Mexicans. 
The messengers were dismissed with presents of food and clothing, and re- 
turned to their master with twenty of their number missing. Hist. Ind., MS. , 
i. 4G7-8G. Additional facts may be found in Native. Races, v. 422-4, etc. 
Another visit to the spirit world is attributed to Papantzin, sister of Montezuma 
II. , who, shortly after his accession, had married the lord of Tlatelulco. He 
soon died, and after ruling for a few years she, in 1509, followed him to the 
grave. She was buried with great pomp in her garden, in a vault closed by 
a flag-stone. The next morning she was discovered sitting on the steps of the 
bath adjoining the vault. Her niece, a child of five or six years, was the 
first to notice her. Too young to understand what would frighten older 
heads, she fearlessly approached the resurrected woman, and was told to 
call Papantzin's mayordoma. This old dame, on receiving the summons, 
thought it a child's prank, and would not stir, but at last she yielded, and 
on seeing the form of her late mistress, swooned with fear. Others proved 
more courageous, and carried her into the house. Papantzin now enjoined 


To what end are signs that cannot be interpreted until 
after the occurrence, as is generally the case, when 
their interpretation is not needed, sages do not say. 

silence, and wished to call Montezuma, but no one daring to appear before 
the cruel and superstitious monarch, Nezahualpilli was summoned, and he 
brought the brother with him to her dwelling, together with several attend- 
ants. To them she related that, on being released from her earthly bonds, 
she had entered a boundless plain, upon a road which soon divided into 
several branches. On one side was a fiercely running stream, which she 
attempted to cross, but was motioned back by a youth of tine stature, 
dressed in a loose robe of dazzling whiteness. His face, bright as a star, 
was of fair complexion, the eyes grey, and the forehead marked with a cross. 
Taking her by the hand, he led her up the valley past heaps of dead men's 
bones, from many of which rose the sound of lament. She also observed a 
number of black persons, with horns and deer legs, building a house. As the 
sun rose, large vessels could be seen ascending the river, bearing white and 
bearded men in strange attire, with shining head-gear, and standard borne 
aloft. They were children of the sun. The youth, in pointing them out, said 
that God did not yet wish her to pass the river, which could never be recrossed, 
but to wait and bear testimony to the faith coming with these men, who were 
destined to wage great wars with her people and become their masters. The 
lamenting bones were her forefathers — ' who had not received the faith,' is the 
uncharitable term used by Torquemada — suffering for their evil deeds, and 
the house building was to hold the bones of those slain in battle by the fair- 
faced crews. She must return to earth, await these men, and guide her people 
to baptism. On being restored to her senses from the death or trance, what- 
ever her listeners chose to term it, she removed the stone from the vault and 
returned to her chamber. Many of those present sneered at the story as orig- 
inating in the brain of a sick woman, but Montezuma was more deeply moved 
than he cared to show. He never again saw his sister, who lived a retired 
life till the arrival of the Spaniards. She then came forward, the first woman 
in Tlatelulco to receive baptism, and under the name of Maria Papantzin 
rendered good aid in the missionary cause. This account, says Torquemada, 
has been taken from old native paintings, translated and sent to Spain, and 
was regarded as strictly true among the natives, Papantzin being well known 
in the town. ' Esta Seiiora era del numero de los Predestinados, ' i. 23S-9. 
Ixtlilxochitl, strangely enough, does not refer to the resurrection. According to 
him, the mother of Ixtlilxochitl, king of Tezcuco, was the first woman bap- 
tized, and this under compulsion from her husband. She received the name 
of Maria. After her came Papantzin, now wife of this king, who was named 
Beatriz. Cortes stood godfather to both. Sahagun refers briefly to the resur- 
rection of a woman of Tenochtitlan, who issued, four days after her death, 
from the garden vault where she had been deposited. Appearing before Mon- 
tezuma, she announced that with him would cease the Mexican empire, for 
other people were coming to rule and settle. This woman lived twenty-one 
years after this, and bore another child. Hist. Gen., ii. 270-1. At this rate 
she must have been alive when Sahagun arrived in the country; yet he fails 
to speak of her as a princess. Boturini applies the story to a sister of King 
Caltzontzin, of Michoacan, who died at the time the Spaniards were besieging 
Mexico, and rose within four days to warn her brother not to listen to the 
Mexican overtures for an alliance against the white invaders. The new-comers, 
she said, were destined by heaven to rule the land, and a testimony hereof 
would appear on the principal feast-day in the form of a youth, who, rising 
in the eastern sky, with a light in one hand and a sword in the other, would 
glide over the city and disappear in the west. This sign appearing, the king 
did as she bade him, rejected the Mexican advances, and received the Span- 
iards in peace. Catdlogo, 27-8. Clavigero censures Boturini's work, in this 


But in this instance the testimony is abundant and 
explicit that many of these prodigies were at the time 
received, not only by Montezuma and his people, but 

connection, as full of fables, and this after solemnly observing that the Papant- 
zin incident ' fu pubblico, e strepitoso, acaduto in presenza di due Re, e della 
Nobilta Messicana. Trovossi altresi rappresentato in alcune dipinture di 
quelle Nazioni, e se ne mand6 alia Corte di Spagna un attestato giuridico.' 
iStoria, Mess., i. 289-92. He places the baptism of Papantzin in 1524. Veytia, 
Hist. Ant. Mcj. , iii. 348-52 ; Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex. , pt. iii. 125-6. Torquemada 
gives the story of what occurred in the spirit land in her own words ; so does 
Clavigero, though he differs slightly. See also his English translation by 
Cullen. As if in confirmation of her story, ominous signs became more numerous 
than ever. The big lake of Mexico began to boil and foam without apparent 
cause, the water rising high within the city and creating great damage. The 
date generally accepted for this occurrence is 1509, but Mendieta, Hist. Ec/es., 
178, says 1499. The lake, like the sky, was connected with more than one 
mysterious occurrence. A troop of Huatuscan conjurers arrived shortly after 
this in the imperial city to exhibit tricks, in one of which they cut off their 
hands and feet, disclosing bleeding stumps, and then replaced the members. 
In order to test whether this was an illusion or not, the emperor ordered the 
severed members to be thrown into boiling water before they were returned to 
the performers. This unwarranted curiosity stirred the magicians to the very 
core, and before retiring they predicted that the lake would be tinged with 
blood, and that their avengers would soon appear in a strange feople, the con- 
querors of the empire. Not long after. Montezuma noticed streaks of blood 
in the lake, mingled with a number of human heads and limbs. He called 
others to witness the sight, but none save himself could see it. Sending to 
the injured conjurers for an explanation, they replied that the vision denoted 
great and bloody battles to be waged in the city by the strange people. 
Jferrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. cap. ix. About the same time some fishermen caught 
a grey bird, like a crane, with a round comb or diadem, resembling a mirror. 
On being brought before Montezuma, he was startled by seeing reflected in 
this mirror the heavenly bodies, although none appeared in the sky, for it was 
yet daylight. The next moment the stars had vanished, and in their place 
were seen beings, half man and half deer, who moved about in battle array. 
Diviners were called to give their explanation, but when they came the bird 
had disappeared. Torquemada appears to date this as early as 1505, i. 235. 
Camanjo, Hist. Tlasc. , 139-40. Another great bird is referred to, with a human 
head, which soared above the lake uttering the prediction that speedily would 
come the new rulers of the empire. Other monsters were found in the shape 
of double-bodied and double-headed men, which dissolved in the air shortly 
after being brought to the sorcerers', or black hall, of Montezuma. A horrible 
animal was caught near Tecualoia. Torquemada, i. 214. During all the years 
of these signs could be heard, at frequent intervals, a female voice lamenting, 
' Oh, my children, all is lost to us ! My children, whither will you be taken?' 
Id. , 214, 233. A similar voice was heard before the fall of Jerusalem. Josephu*, 
lib. vii. cap. xii. ; Mendieta, Hist. Ec/es., 180; Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mej., iii. 358; 
Saluujun, Hist. Gen., i. 5. In 1510 the imperial city was startled, one clear, 
quiet night, by a fire, which, bursting from the heart of the timbers in the 
temple of Huitzilopochtli, burned all the fiercer under the efforts made to 
quench it. A precursor of this had been the fall of a stone column close to 
the temple, coming no one knew whence. • El chapitel de un Cii de 
\ itzilopuchtli, que se llamaba Tlacoteca, se encendi6. ' Sahayun, Hist. Conq., 
i. 3-4. Shortly after, the temple of the fire god Xiuhtecutli, at Zocomolco, 
was stricken by lightning and burned. This occurred without the usual 
accompaniment of thunder, and with but a sprinkle of rain ; many regarded 
it as done by a sunbeam, and consequently as particularly ominous. ' Los 


by the neighboring nations, as the distinct announce- 
ment of the coming of the gods, who did in good 
truth appear at the proper time in the person of the 
Spaniards. And what should be their doom, those 
stupid and profane men of Potonchan and Tabasco, 
who had raised their hands against these heavenly 
messengers ! 

We are further assured that, prior to the arrival of 
any Spaniard, some of the subjected provinces assumed 
an air of independence, encouraged by the fear which 
these occurrences produced on the Aztecs, against 
whom they were regarded as especially directed. 
Cuetlachtlan sorcerers having in their divining- pits 
conjured up visions of Mexicans acting as abject 
carriers to armed bearded men astride giant deer, 
this people became in 1511 so insolent as to refuse 
the customary tribute, and even to murder the Aztec 
officials sent to collect it. And so involved was 
Montezuma in divers troubles that he was unable to 
resent the outrage. 

The thought occurred to the Mexican monarch that 
perhaps the threatened evils might be averted by pro- 
pitiating the gods with greater sacrifices. For this the 
several campaigns then waged or concluded promised 
an abundance of victims; and to make the holocaust 
still more imposing, it was resolved to consecrate at 
the same time a new sacrificial stone. After diligent 
search a suitable stone was found at Tenanitlan, near 
Coyohuacan. The sculptors having finished their 
work, and the priests theirs, with loud hosannas it 
was rolled along toward the imperial city. While 
crossing the Xolco canal the bridge broke, and the 
stone sank beneath the water, dragging down the high- 
priest and his attendants, "who went to hell quicker 
than the stone," comments the pious Torquemada. 

Indios decian....el Sol ha quemado este Templo; porque ni hemos visto 
Relampago, ni hemos oido Trueno.' Torquemada, i. 214, 234. Believing, or 
pretending to believe, the city attacked by enemies, the Tlatelulcans rushed 
to arms, for which excess of zeal they were punished by a suspension of all 
their townsmen who held positions at court. Native Races, v. 4G1-G7. 


The stone, however, was recovered, and consecrated 
on the summit of the great temple, in 1512, with the 
blood of over twelve thousand captives. 4 

And now Montezuma almost wishes the calamities 
he fears were already upon him, so full of dread and 
dire oppression is he. Priests, chiefs of wards, and 
other officials, says Tezozomoc, are commanded to 
ascertain and impart all dreams and strange occur- 
rences relating to a coming people or to the throne. 
Wise and politic as he is, he does not seem to know 
that this is only placing himself and his malady at 
the mercy of the masses. Who could not conjure 
up visions under such a summons? Some old men 
immediately come forward with a dream, wherein 
Huitzilopochtli's image is overthrown and his temple 
burned to the ground, leaving no vestige. Certain 

4 Torquemada assumes that the 12,210 victims comprised also those offered 
at the consecration of two new temples, Tlamatzinco and Quauhxicalli. 
See Native Races, v. 471. Tezozomoc relates that the laborers, after striving 
in vain to move the stone from its original site, heard it utter, in a muffled 
voice, ' Your efforts are in vain ; I enter not into Mexico. ' The incident finds 
a parallel in the vain effort of Tarquin to remove certain statues of the gods, 
to make room for Jupiter's temple, and in the firm adherence of Apollo's 
head to the ground, shortly before the death of the Roman ruler. But 
recovering from their alarm, they tried again, and now the stone moved 
almost of its own accord. Another halt is made, a second oracle delivered, 
and finally the stone reaches the bridge, where it disappears into the water. 
Amid the invocation of priests, divers descend in search, only to come back 
with the report that no vestige of it is to be found ; but there is a fathomless pit 
extending toward Chalco. While diviners are cudgelling their brains for clues, 
in comes a messenger to announce that the stone, like the Penates of iEneas, 
had returned to its original site, arrayed in all the sacrificial ornaments. 
Observing in this occurrence the divine will, Montezuma let the stone remain, 
and recognizing at the same time a menace to himself, perhaps of speedy 
death, he ordered his statue to be at once sculptured by the side of his pre- 
decessors, on the rocky face of Chapultepec Hill. Tezozomoc describes the 
statue. Hist. Mex., ii. 204-7. Duran, Hist, hid., MS., ii. 313-27. Clavigero, 
Storia Mess., i. 292-3. Among the troubles which after this fell upon the 
doomed people are mentioned: An earthquake in 1513. Codex. Tel. Rem., in 
Kingsboroucjlts Mex. Antiq., v. 154. A locust plague. ' Vieronse gran canti- 
dad de mariposas, y langostas, que passauan de buelo hazia el Occidente. ' 
Jlerrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. cap. ix. A deluge in Tuzapan, and a fall of snow 
which overwhelmed the army en route for Amatlan. While crossing the 
mountains, rocks and trees came tumbling down upon them, killing a large 
number, while others froze to death. Ixtlilxochitl places this in 1514. 
Others say 1510. During the Soconusco campaign, see Native Races, v. 472, 
the ground opened near Mexico, and threw up water and fish. The Indiana 
interpreted this to signify a victory, but the lord of Culhuacan intimated, 
with a shake of the head, that one force expelled another, whereat Monte- 
zuma's delight somewhat abated. 'Quando prendio Cortes a entrambos, se 
accordu (Montezuma) muy bien de aquellas palabras. ' Jlerrera, ubi sup. 


hags next appear with a dream of a furious stream, 
which has swept away the palace and temple, forcing 
the lords to flee the city. 

This will not do. Away with such trumpery ! And 
so the terrified monarch hurls the evil dreamers into 
prison, and leaves them there to die of starvation, 
while he orders on new ones in the persons of the 
priests and men of circumspection. But softly now. 
These wise ones deem it prudent not to dream at all, 
which course only adds suspicion to the hot anger of 
Montezuma. Next he calls on all astrologers, sorcer- 
ers, and diviners in the empire to dream, to cause 
others to dream, and to declare their dreams; to de- 
clare the secrets of the starry realms, and all things 
pertinent on and in this earth. Neither will these ply 
their avocation during such troublous times. Down 
with them, then, to the lowest depths ! In prison, 
however, they do understand that the planets and ter- 
restrial phenomena combine to foreshadow extraordi- 
nary occurrences, whether for good or evil the emperor 
will soon enough know. " Force them to tell; burn 
them else," are the next instructions. But the mes- 
sengers find the prison, though guarded, empty. The 
unhappy monarch sends to their respective towns and 
demolishes their houses, but these agents of offended 
heaven are never seen again. 5 

5 Meanwhile it came to pass that an eagle swooped down upon a peasant at 
work in a field not far from Mexico, and seizing him by the hair in full view of 
his neighbors, bore him out of sight. Landed high upon a mountain, the man 
found himself led by invisible hands through a dark cave into a hall of daz- 
zling splendor, where Montezuma lay as if asleep. Less favored than Gany- 
mede, he was permitted to see no other form, but voices around explained to 
him that this was a representation of the emperor intoxicated with pride and 
blinded by vanity. Tezozomoc writes that the eagle assumed the form of a 
13rd and spoke; but a superior being can hardly be supposed to have assumed 
the office of carrying a low peasant. A lighted pipe with a rose was placed in 
his hand, with orders to burn a mark upon the monarch's leg, and then pro- 
ceed to court and re' ate to him what had occurred, pointing out the blister 
in testimony. The gods were annoyed at his conduct and rule, which had 
evoked the ills soon to overthrow him. Let him amend and use well the 
short term still allotted to him. The next moment the peasant found himself 
borne through the air by the eagle, which enjoined upon him to obey the com- 
mand received. The man did so, and Montezuma, recalling a dream to the 
same effect, looked and found a wound, which now began to burn painfully. 
Throwing the man into prison as an evil sorcerer, he sought his doctors for re- 
lief. 'Lo que vio el labrador, pudo ser que aconteciesse en vision imaginatiua 


This, and more of yet wilder strain continued in the 
note, shows at least that prior to the coming of the 

porque .... no es increyble que Dios por medio de vn Angel bueno ordenasse .... 
que aquel auiso se diesse. ' Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. cap. ix. Montezuma now 
resolved to seek a refuge where none of the threatened evils might reach 
him. The place selected was Cicalco, 'house of the rabbit,' painted by the 
myths as an abode of delight, abounding in every product, sown with 
flowers, and flowing with crystal waters, a place where death never entered. 
As a preliminary step four human victims were flayed and their spirits 
sent to Huemac, the ruler of that region, to prepare the way for the living 
messengers. These consisted of sorcerers, accompanied by dwarfs and hunch- 
backs to carry the flayed skins as presents. Two hunchbacks were sent with 
the skins of ten flayed men, says Duran. Entering the cave leading to Cicalco, 
they were guided by its guardian into the bowels of the earth, and presented 
themselves before the Aztec Pluto. With humble reverence they proffered the 
skins with the prayer of Montezuma for admission into that abode of delight 
and into his service. Unwilling to make an exception to the rule for admis- 
sion through death's portals, Huemac sent the messengers back with pres- 
ents, giving the evasive reply that their master should confide to him his sor- 
rows and await relief. On receiving this report Montezuma angrily ordered 
the men to be cast into prison, and sent other messengers with fresh skins, 
repeating his request for admission, yet conforming in so far as to ask for an 
explanation of the many signs abroad. Huemac, again avoiding a direct 
answer, told them that Cicalco was quite a different place from what they sup- 
posed it to be. He and his comrades stayed not of their pwn accord, but 
were kept there by a superior power, steeped in abject toil and misery. This un- 
satisfactory report entailed upon the messengers the same punishment as be- 
fore. Two Acolhuan chiefs were now entrusted with fresh skins and the request 
that Huemac should at least explain the signs which threatened the emperor, 
if he still refused him admission. Among these signs is mentioned a white . 
cloud rising at midnight toward the sky. Propitiated by the higher rank 
or qualities of these messengers, or by the earnest perseverance of their mas- 
ter, Huemac explained that the sufferings and menaces were the result of his 
pride and cruelty. Let him amend, and as a preliminary task begin a fast of 
eighty days. This accomplished, Huemac would meet him at Tlachtonco, on 
the summit of Chapultepec. Montezuma was so delighted with this answer 
that he rewarded the chiefs most liberally, and made the necessary arrange- 
ments for the government of the empire during his seclusion. Going at the 
appointed time to Tlachtonco, a brilliant stone ordered him to make certain 
preparations and return in four days, when he would be conducted to Cicalco. 
This he did, after enjoining secrecy upon all who had assisted in the matter. 
Arrayed in a human skin adorned with precious stones, gold, and feathers, he 
seated himself upon a feathered throne, surrounded by his richly dressed 
dwarf and hunchback pages, and in this guise awaited Huemac. Soon a light 
in the distance, brilliant as the sun, announced the approach of the mys- 
terious being, and hope leaped high in Montezuma's breast. It stopped, 
however, and the emperor was devoured by anxiety. Suddenly a human 
voice recalled him from his absorption. It was that of the guardian of 
Tzoncoztli temple, who related that Huemac, interdicted by supreme com- 
mand from approaching the emperor, had commissioned him to recall his 
master to duty. His presence is needed in Mexico to direct public affairs 
and to infuse respect among the hostile nations, who would rise the mo- 
ment his disappearance became known. What will his subjects think? He 
must obey the divine command, and remember that he is emperor of the 
world. Montezuma yielded reluctantly and reentered his palace, taking to his 
side the faithful Tzoncoztli guardian, and charging all to keep the secret. 
Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 213-27; and in KingsborougWs Mex. Ant., v. 4G9, 
etseq.; Duran, Hist, hid., MS., ii. 32S-45. 


Spaniards the people of the Mexican valley, and their 
sovereign in particular, were profoundly moved with 
fearful forebodings of calamity of some kind. And 
whether these forebodings pointed to some strange 
arrival by sea or other marvel, certain it is that they 
opened the door of this rich realm to the invaders. 

Ever intent on means to propitiate the gods, Monte- 
zuma in 1517 hit upon the idea of plating the temple 
of Huitzilopochtli with gold set with precious stones 
and feathers, and gave the order accordingly to Tzom- 
pantzin, the minister of finance. Now Tzompanztin 
was an old and faithful servant of the government, 
blunt withal, and nowise afraid to die. He was of 
the ancient chivalry, not wholly in sympathy with 
the present regime, and did not hesitate to expos- 
tulate with his sovereign, saying that the people 
would be ruined by the proposed tax. " Beside," he 
concluded, "Huitzilopochtli will not long be god, for 
those even now are coming who will take for them- 
selves all these riches and. lord it over us forever." 
That very night Tzompantzin and his son were politely 
escorted across the dark river. 6 

The following year, 1518, the temple of Coatlan was 
dedicated, with the usual sacrifices, the last recorded 
holocaust to consecrate a heathen temple. For already 
the white-winged vessels of Spain were at hand, having 
on board the messengers of a purer religion, even if 
it did not at once prove to be the gospel of peace to 
the poor Indian. 

Pinotl, calpixque of Cuetlachtlan, was the first of 
Montezuma's captains, according to the native record, 
to make observations for the emperor of the dreaded 
visitants. Prompted no less by zeal in his master's 
service than by curiosity, Pinotl, with several attend- 
ants, armed with provisions and rich mantles for 
presents, had mingled with the crowd which boarded 
Grljalva's vessel, and had prostrated himself at the 
feet of the commander and his officers as before kings 

6 Codex Chimatyopoca, in Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ.,iv. 33-6. 


or gods. 7 The beads and other trinkets given in re- 
turn for their goods they received as priceless marks 
of favor from supernatural personages. When Pinotl 
explained as best he was able the majesty and. wealth 
of his sovereign, Grijalva promised to return some 
day and visit him in his great city. Bearing with 
them paintings on amatl, or maguey paper, of the 
vessels with all their belon^inofs, and of the soldiers 
and sailors with their arms, armor, dress, and atti- 
tude, down to their very swagger, and leaving orders 
that the strangers should be treated with every con- 
sideration, the chief men of the province set out by 
fast rela} 7 s to report the awful tidings to the emperor. 8 
Entering the imperial presence thej prostrated 
their bodies to the ground, which they kissed, declar- 
ing themselves worthy of death for having ventured 
unbidden before their lord, but their mission permitted 
no delay. "For oh! most dread sovereign, 2 ' they ex- 
claimed, "we have seen gods! All of us here present 
have seen their water-houses on our shores. We 
have talked with them, and eaten with them, and 
have handled them with our hands; we have given 
them gifts, and have received in return these price- 
less treasures." Then they showed the glass beads, a 
specimen too often approaching the value of the gifts 
received by the strong from the weak. Montezuma 
sat mute, scarcely heeding the messages sent him by 
Grijalva, concerned most of all that vassals should 
not witness his dismay. Here again was his phantasy 
before him, like the shade of dead Hector before 

7 'Besaron todos las proas de las naos en senal de adoracion, pensaron que 
era el Dios Quetzalcoatl que volvia. ' Sahayun, Hint. Conq., i. 5. 

"According to IVzozomoc, an Indian, with ears, thumbs, and big toes cut 
off, arrived from Mictlancuauhtla with the report that he had seen a round 
mountain on the sea moving to and fro without approaching the shore. The 
informant was placed under guard, and a chief with an attendant sent to 
Pinotl to verify the statement, and to chide him for neglect to report. They 
soon returned to say that from a tree they had seen two such mountains or 
towers, from one of which a canoe had set out on a fishing trip. The men on 
board had white faces and hands, long, thick beard, long hair, raiments of 
varied and brilliant colors, and round head-covering. The mutilated Indian 
being now called to answer further questions, his prison cell was found vacant. 
Hist. Mex., ii. 232-4; Duran, Hist, hid., MS., ii. 359-77. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 8 



./Eneas, warning him against hopeless resistance to 
the preordained fall of Troy. 

Bidding the men retire and keep secret what they 
had seen, Montezuma hastily summoned his privy 
council, 9 King Cacama of Tezcuco, his brother Cuitla- 
huatzin, lord of Itzapalapan, and laid before them 
the mystery. After sage consultations, attended by 
divinings and comparisons of signs, prophecies, and 
traditions, not unlike the means by which we of to-day 
likewise ascertain the unknowable, it was concluded 
that this commander was none other than the fair- 
hued god himself, who had returned to resume the 
throne, as he had said. Therefore resistance would 
be in vain; and the only proper course was to tender 
worthy reception and conciliate with gifts. The chiefs 
were sent back with orders for the governors of the 
coast districts 10 to report any arrival or strange occur- 
rence. Following them was an embassy of five persons 
bearing rich presents, with instructions to bid the god 
welcome in the name of the emperor and of his court; 
yet they were to watch him closely. But the embassy 
was too late. Grijalva had gone. 11 

9 Torquemada, i. 379, names ten members, while Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mcj., 
iii. 378, says there were twelve. 

10 Particularly at Nauhtla, Toztla, Mictla, and Quauhtla. Torquemada, 
i. 379; Sahagun, Hist. Conq., i. G, calls the districts Cuextecatl, Naulitlantozt- 
lau, and Mictlanquactla. Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 49, 
writes more correctly Nauthtlan, Tochtlan, andMictlan-Quauhtla. 

11 Torquemada, i. 379-80, expresses his disapproval of Gomara and Her- 
rera for following only Spanish versions, and ignoring the Indian records ac- 
quired by himself and others, including Sahagun. The latter assumes that 
Montezuma has been apprised of Grijalva 's departure before the embassy leaves, 
and this body is therefore not sent till Cortes arrives. Hist. Conq., i. 7. This 
is not unlikely, for council had to be first held and the future course deter- 
mined, and messengers were always on the way between the subject provinces 
and the capital, ready to convey news. But most writers, followed by the 
Native Races, take the view presented in the text. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. 
cap. ix., who is very brief on Grijalva 's visit, says, when it was learned 
that the Spaniards wanted gold, the governors on the coast were ordered to 
barter with it, and to find out what further object they had in coming. 
Ixtlilxochitl states that merchants from the coast fair brought the first news 
of Grijalva to Mexico. Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mcj., iii. 377-8, is brief on the sub- 
ject. Tezozomoc describes the necklace, bracelet, and other jewelry prepared 
as presents by four of the leading goldsmiths and lapidaries. With these the 
chief who had been to the coast to observe the floating towers is ordered to 
seek the white men. Pinotl must prepare food for them, and. if they eat, 
they are surely Quetzalcoatl and his suite. ' But if they prefer human flesh, ' 


says Duran, in his version, 'and wish to eat you, let them do so; I promise 
to look to the future of your children and relatives. ' Hist. Ind. , MS. , ii. 30G- 
7. 'If you are convinced that it is Quetzalcoatl, ' continued Montezuma, 
'adorn his person with these jewels made for the purpose, and say that I beg 
him humbly to come and take possession of the throne which I hold for him. ' 
Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 236-9. This author confounds Grijalva and Carte's, 
but allows the jewels and message to reach the latter. According to Duran, 
Montezuma tells the chief to ask the god for permission to finish his rule; 
after his death he is welcome to the throne. 'Que me dege morir, y que de- 
spues de yo muerto venga muy de norabuena, y tome su Reyno pues es suyo 
y lo dejo en guarda a mis antepasados, ' ut supra. Acosta, Hist. Ind., 508-14 
refers briefly to this subject, and to the various omens and visions, some of 
which he regards as dreams imparted by angels. Meanwhile fresh messengers 
arrive to report that the white captain had spread the wings of his floating 
mountains and faded away- in the east. They bring later drawings and gifts, 
including beads, shirts, a hat, some biscuits and wine. The monarch crunches 
the biscuits and admits them to be good, but the wine, with its penetrating 
sweetness, lulling the senses and calling up happy visions, this delights him, 
and specimens of both are deposited upon the altar of Quetzalcoatl at Tula. 
Finally, on seeing the glass necklace, he declares the giver to be indeed the 
Acatl Ynacuitl, the travelling god of the reed; and deeming himself un- 
worthy of so brilliant an adornment, he consecrates it to the gods. The best 
painters are called to give a superior representation of the strange visitors from 
the rude drawings brought by the messengers, and from their description, while 
the old and wise men are asked for recollections and ideas which may throw 
light upon the subject. After much search a tradition is raked up, wherein 
a race is to come from the east mounted on serpents or masted mountains, 
arid with them a white, bearded people, astride of big deers and eagles, who 
will land at Tzonapan, and obtain possession of all the land. They are also 
described as a one-legged people, with the face in the middle of the body, of 
white complexion and with long beard. In confirmation thereof is produced 
an old painting, which agrees with those depicting the late arrivals. Con- 
vinced of the identity, Montezuma orders the governors of the coast provinces 
to maintain a close watch for the return of the strangers, so that he may re- 
ceive speedy notice. Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 241-50; Duran, Hist. Ind., 
MS., ii. 359-92. 

This chapter presents but a faint picture of the state of affairs within the 
Mexican empire at the time of the arrival of Cortes. As I said at the outset, 
all this I have given in my Native Races, and can not of course repeat it here. 
Further authorities on omens and on the state of the Aztec empire, most of 
them, however, of no value, are Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., ii. 5-12; Bel- 
trami, Mexique, ii. 137-9 and 142-3; Zamacois, Hist. Mej., iii. 130-2; Vetan- 
cvH, Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 124-6; Bos, Leben der See-Helden, 4-5; Hazart, Kir- 
chen-Geschichte, ii. 505-8; Touron, Hist. Gen. Am., iii. 127-34; Viagero Univ., 
xxvi. 192-237; Larenaudiere, Mex. et Guat., 73-5; La fond, Voy., i. 105-7; 
E< /< jleston's Montezuma, 11-17; Sammlung cdler Reisebesch., xiii. 289-91; Rus- 
SfJTs Hist. Am., i. 76-9; Laharpe, Abrege, ix. 268-73; Du Perrier, Gen. Hist. 
Voy., 332-6; Burke's Europ. Set., i. 11; Smollett's Voy., i. 214-19; Cheva- 
lier, Mexique, 7-22; Mexique fitudes, 9-10; Robertson's Hist. Am., ii. 17-18; 
Bussierre, L'Emp. Mex., 119-30; Manzi, Conq. di Mess. 14-19; Roure, Gonquete 
da Mex., 211-20. 



April-May, 1519. 

The Embassy from the Shore — The New Interpreter — Marina — Her 
Appearance and Quality — Her Romantic History — She Cleaves 
to the Spaniards and to Cortes — And Becomes One of the most 
Important Characters of the Conquest — The Spaniards Land and 
Form an Encampment — The Governor Comes with Presents — The 
Spaniards Astonish the Natives — Who Report all to Monte- 
zuma — Cortes Sends the Monarch Presents — Council Called in 
Mexico — Montezuma Determines not to Receive the Strangers — 
Reciprocates in Presents a Hundredfold — Cortes Persists — 
Montezuma Declines more Firmly — Olmedo Attempts Conversion 
— Teuhtlile, Offended, Withdraws his People from the Camp of 
the Spaniards. 

Under San Juan de Ulua the fleet of Cortes rests 
at anchor, lying lazily there, its fiery purpose clothed 
in peaceful white, like a snow-capped volcano basking 
in the sunlight. The ships had been watched from 
afar by expectant eyes; and now from the wondering 
multitude that lines the Chalchiuhcuecan 1 shore come 
two large canoes, whose occupants step to the deck of 
the flag-ship and reverentially ask for the Tlatoani. 
Their language is new to Aguilar: none of the 
company can understand it. What is to be done ? 
Modestly speaks one of the female slaves, " These 
are Mexicans, sent by Cuitlalpitoc, 2 cacique of the 

1 See Native Races, iv. 434. Duran's native records call this the ' port ' 
of Chalchuihqueyacan. Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 389. The spelling by different 
authorities differs greatly. Clavigero, and Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mej., iii. 377, 
give April 21 as the date of arrival, while Bustamante, in Sa/iagun, Hist. 
GoTiq. (ed. Mex. 1845), 135, makes it the 22d. Year Ce Acatl. Ixtlilxochitl, 
Jiel., 411. Sahagun, Hist. Conq., i. 7., says 13 conejos. 

2 Torquemada, i. 387. Bernal Diaz writes Pitalpitoque, named by the 


MARINA. 117 

nearest town, to welcome the white chief and offer 
their devotion. They would likewise know whence 
he comes, and why." 

Instantly all eyes are on the speaker, who under 
their continued gaze draws back, abashed at her own 
temerity, while the warm blood mantles beneath its 
clear olive confine, and the breath comes inconstant 
between parted lips. Cortes regards her as she stands 
there unconscious of the important service she has 
rendered him; for possessed she the power of Thetis, 
to assume any form she pleased, the fair interpreter 
could not at this juncture have appeared before the 
chief in any other aspect half so fascinating. Who is 
she? The one baptized Marina, at Tabasco; and who, 
being the greatest lady there, was given to Puerto- 
carrero, the greatest gentleman present. Why had 
she been given to Puertocarrero? Why had not the 
chief chamberer himself taken her? Cortes had 
weightier matters on his mind. He was playing for 
empire, and would not now stop to divide the petty 
winnings with his men. By and by right royally will 
he reward the unsanctified within him for its absti- 
nence. As for this girl, he seems now for the first 
time to see her. 3 Had Marina, the slave, been born 
in other lands, under different auspices, to what exalted 
sphere might not her personal loveliness and beauty 
of character have entitled her ! 

They say she was fair for an Indian ; very beautiful 
she certainly is, and of that order of loveliness that 
captivates the understanding no less than the pas- 
sions. The old as well as the young are ravished with 
her beauty, even as with Helen were the elders of 
Troy. She is about eighteen, and in form and features 
perfect; her long hair falling over smooth, round 
shoulders, and from large lustrous eyes radiating a 

Spaniards Ovandillo. Hist. Verdad. , 25. Herrera, Pitalpitoc. Solis, followed 
by Robertson, Pilpatoe. Bernal Diaz and Gomara name Teuhtlile, the chief 
governor of the province, who lived farther in the interior, as the sender. 

3 According to Gomara, Hist. Mex., 40, and Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. iv., 
this new interpreter is not discovered until four days later. 


tender melancholy that overspreads the face and 
tones to harmony whatever falls beneath its influence. 
Sweet and frank in her disposition, she is never- 
theless resolute enough upon occasion; yet in her 
ordinary mood there is a rare grace and femininity, 
in which she is as liquid and pellucid as a passage in 
Herodotus. There is no shame in her blush, nothing' 
bordering on conscious inferiority in her bearing; 
nothing that these or any other beings may do unto 
her can lessen her self-respect. She scarcely knows 
she is a slave, the plaything of passion; she finds the 
world made so, men the stronger and wickeder, and 
she has but to acquiesce. 4 

Cortes is deeply interested. As if from heaven 
some bright being had been sent to his assistance, 
so comes to him Marina now. What is her history? 
Strangely romantic. She is the daughter of a cacique, 
born at Painala, eight leagues from Goazacoalco. 
While } r et a child her father died; and upon a son, 
the fruit of a second marriage, the mother centred all 
her affections. To secure to him the succession and 
inheritance which rightly belonged to the daughter, 
Marina was given as a slave to some travelling mer- 
chants of Xicalanco, while a slave girl who had just 
died was passed off for Marina and buried with the 
usual stately ceremonies. 5 Arrived at Tabasco, Marina 

4 ' Entremetida, 6 desembuelta, ' slabbers that lecherous old soldier Bernal 
Diaz. To call wom p n loose comes well from men who spend their lives in 
making them so. If, as has been stated, the women of her native district 
have borne a reputation not altogether enviable, whose fault is it? Not 
theirs, truly. That this girl Avas the mistress of men, under the circum- 
stances, detracts not one iota from her good name in the minds of right-think- 
ing persons ; nay, it detracts nothing from her purity of mind, her honesty, 
or her innate morality. 'Reprehensible medio de asegurarla en su fidelidad,' 
says Solis, Hist. Gonq. Mex., i. 119, otherwise so ready to cover up the defects 
of his hero. 

5 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 24-5. According to Gomara she was born 
in Viluta, in the direction of Jalisco, the daughter of rich parents, related 
to the cacique. From them she was stolen by traders and sold in Xicalanco. 
Jlinl. Mex., 40. The town and district may be a corruption of Huilotlan, in 
Xalatzinco, which Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 287, gives as her native place, and 
this may be identical with the present Oluta or Holuta, near Acayucan, on the 
isthmus of Tehuantepec. Painala is no longer known. Fossey, who travelled 
through the region, states that tradition makes Xaltipan or Altipan her birth- 
place, and in support of this belief a mountain is pointed out, close to the 


was sold to the cacique, and by him transferred to 
the Spaniards. With a mind elastic and quick to 
learn, to her native Mexican tongue she added at 
Tabasco a knowledge of the Maya, becoming after- 
ward proficient in Spanish. And now no longer slave, 
save to the passion love, she is to queen it for a while 
as consort of the conqueror, becoming in the conquest 
second only in power and importance to Cortes 
himself, whom with her whole soul she Joves, and to 
whom alone she clings after the departure presently of 
Puertocarrero for Spain. Accompanying the invaders 
as interpreter and adviser, she shares their hardships 
and rejoices in their successes. For is not the daring 
commander lord of her heart and person ? Moreover, 
what claim upon her has a nation which drives her 
into solitude beyond its border, and for no crime? 
Therefore, if her newly found friends sicken, she 
nurses them; if they despair, she comforts them. 
Nevertheless she cannot forget her people, but freely 
exerts her influence in their behalf, saving many a 
life and many a town from destruction. Toward the 
end both races vie in showing her their admiration, 
gratitude, and respect; and although to the Indian 
the invaders become more and more objects of execra- 
tion, yet he never mentions with aught but loving 
reverence the name Malintzin, or Malinche, as in his 
tongue is called Marina. 6 

town, bearing the name of Malinche. Mexique, 26-7; Gomara, Hist. Mex. 
(Bustamante ed.), i. 41; Berendt, in Salazar, Mcx. en 1554, 178; Herrera, dec. 
ii. lib. v. cap. vi. ; Sahagun, Hist. Conq. i. 15, mentions Teticpac, and Oviedo 
names Mexico as Marina's native place, iii. 259, while Saavdra undertakes 
to reconcile the different statements by supposing that her family came 
originally from Jalisco, west of Anahuac, to Mexico city, and thence to 
Goazacoalco. Her high intelligence indicates that she was educated in the 
capital. Die. Univ., ix. 774. 

6 Mexicans being unable to pronounce the 'r,' Marina became Malina, to 
which the tzin was added in respect, equivalent to dona or lady. Malinche was 
a Spanish corruption, which was at time3 applied by the Indians to Cortes, as 
the lord and companion of Marina, and Juan Perez de Arteaga had also the 
appellation added to his name, from being so often with her. Bernal Diaz, J list. 
I erdad. , 52. Another conjecture is that her original name was Malina, or 
Malinalli, signifying 'twisted thing,' the term for one of the Mexican days, 
applied in accordance with a native custom of giving children the name of 
their birthday. The name indeed is not uncommon, the lord of Tlachquiauhco, 


To the embassy of Cuitlalpitoc Cortes makes friendly 
answer. He will explain his purposes to the cacique in 
person. Meanwhile the messengers are regaled with 
food; presents are given them, and gold is shown as 

for instance, being called Malinal or Malinaltzin. Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex. , ii. 31 , 
40. On finding her own name so similar to Marina, the Spanish priest gave her 
this at the font. The Indians usually acquired a surname after they grew up, 
and Tenepal is that found for Marina. Siguenza y Gongora, Parayso Occid. , 38 ; 
Salazar y Olarte, Conq. Mex., 217; Arrdniz, Orizaba, 171, 182. To Cortes she 
bore a son, who was recognized by his father and raised to the rank of a knight 
of Santiago. While on the way with Cortes to Honduras, in 1524, she was 
legally married to Captain Juan Jaramillo. This took place at Ostoticpac, near 
Orizaba, and excited no little comment. Some believe that the arrival of 
CorteV wife was the cause of the marriage; but although this may have led to 
his separation from Marina, it could not have affected the marriage, since the 
wife was already dead. Cortes no doubt found her an incumbrance, and sought 
to be rid of it in a manner honorable to her at least. Gomara accuses him of 
having made Jaramillo drunk for the purpose. Hist. Mex., 251 ; but this Ber- 
nal Diaz corrects. He knew one of the witnesses at the ceremony. Hist. 
Verdad., 25. Jaramillo had achieved a certain prominence as commander 
of one of the brigantines which aided in the siege of Mexico, and in other 
affairs, and is said to have been an hidalgo. Ixtlilxochitl marries her to 
Aguilar, probably because this seemed a fit union. Hist. Chick. , 287. Camargo, 
Hist. Tlax., 143. Shortly after her marriage the army halted at Goazaco- 
alco, whither all the chiefs of the neighborhood were summoned to tender 
submission and to receive instruction in the faith. Among them was a 
young cacique with his mother, whose resemblance to Marina at once called 
the attention of all acquainted with the story, and led to her recognition 
as the heartless parent. The old dame feared for her life, but Marina 
reassured her with tender caresses, excusing her conduct as controlled by 
the deceased stepfather, and cheered her with a number of presents. She 
presented her husband, and referred with fond pride to the son she had given 
to Cortes. Both mother and half-brother accepted baptism, he receiving the 
name of Lazaro, and she that of Marta, an appropriate name for one who 
perhaps lived long enough to lament the ruin of her people and country, an 
indirect result of her unnatural treatment of Marina. Bernal Diaz, who wit- 
nessed all this, and became further acquainted with the family, declares Go- 
mara wrong, and says : 'Conoci a su madre, y a su hermano,' concluding 'todo 
esto que digo, se lo oi muy certificadamente, y se lo juro, amen. ' Hist. Verdad. , 
2j; Clavigcro, Storia Mess., iii. 12-14; Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 38. Re- 
turning to Mexico, she received lands there and in her native province, but 
took up her residence in the capital, where her husband held a prominent 
position through his wealth and offices, such as regidor and as the first alferez 
of the city. ' Recibieron p r Alferes de esta Ciudad a Juan Xaramillo. ' 
'Primer Alferes.' Libro de Cabildo, MS., 216. Reference is made to lots and 
other grants made to him and his wife Dona Marina, on March 14, 1528, and 
other dates. Id. Both held repartimientos, one of which lay in Xilotepec. 
Marina appears to have been still living in Mexico city in 1550, impressing 
her memory upon the hearts of the grateful people, over whose welfare she 
even now watches. Invoked by them, her spirit is frequently encountered in 
its twilight flights on errands of mercy and consolation, issuing from the 
ancient groves of Chapultepec, where centres the recollection of Aztec glories. 
Ballads still perpetuate her virtues, and many a nature's monument bears 
proudly the beloved name of Malintzin. Tradition also transforms her into a 
naiad who daily rises from the pool of Chapultepec, singing divinely. Rodriguez, 
AndhuaCy 4G1. She appears to have had several children by Cortes. Pcralta 
mentions five besides Martin, of whom two died while young. The three 


something Spaniards delight in. Then they return 
to the shore, which appears not very inviting, with 
its broad reach of sand and sandy hillocks whirled up 
by the northers. Likewise vegetation hereabout is 
stunted, larger trees appearing only in the distance. 
The place had been recommended by Grijalva, how- 
ever, as possessing good anchorage, and the people as 
being rich and hospitable. 7 

remaining were daughters, of whom two became nuns, and the third, Leonor, 
the wife of Martin de Tolosa. Nat. Hist., 75. This is not wholly correct, 
however, for in the Libro de Gobierno del Virey Mendoza is a document, 
dated April, 1550, wherein the viceroy grants a petition from her in favor of 
her grandson, Don Alonso de Estrada, son of Luis de Saavedra, deceased, and 
encomendero of Tilantongo town. Alaman's notes, in Prescotfs Mex. (Mex. 
1844), ii. 268-9. In Cortes, Uesldeneia, i. 123, ii. 70, 101, witnesses refer also 
to a daughter of the interpreter Marina, with whom Cortes is accused of 
having tampered, as he did with the mother. If so, this can hardly be 
Saavedra 's wife, but a Tabascan child; yet Marina's master would not have 
presented a woman incumbered with a child when he sought to do honor to 
the Spaniards. Saavedra allows Marina to proceed to Spain with her husband, 
who procured for her a high position at court. Here she died, leaving several 
children, from whom descended some of the first families in Spain. Die. 
Univ. , ix. 778. But this authority is too full of blunders to be relied upon. 
Ideal portraits are given in Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., ii. G5, and Zamacols, 
Hist. Mcj., ii. 350. 

7 1 have said, as the native record interpreted byTezozomoc and Duran re- 
lates, that the fleet is sighted and reported long before it reaches San Juan de 
Ulua — from Tabasco, says Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex., ii. 114. Montezuma, who 
had already begun to hope that the strangers would never return, becomes sad 
with apprehension ; yet he orders special relays to be stationed on the route to 
the coast, in order to bring speedy news, commands his lieutenant to furnish 
the strangers with all they need, and sends Tlillancalqui, the messenger who 
met Grijalva, to ascertain their object. He is instructed to declare that Mon- 
tezuma holds the throne as mere deputy at the disposal of the white god, for 
he supposes that it is Quetzalcoatl, as before. If the god intends to proceed 
to Mexico the roads will be cleaned, and the towns and stations prepared for 
his accommodation. Tlillancalqui delivers his message, together with a neck- 
lace of gold set with precious stones, and in his eagerness to please the strange 
beings he offers fowl and tortilla to horses as well as men. Cortes signifies his 
wish to go to Mexico, and asks that chiefs be sent to guide him. Tlillancalqui 
hurries back with the message, leaving orders to supply the Spaniards with 
all they desire. Duran, Hist, fnd., MS., ii. 389-96; T<zozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 
250-3. According to the version by Sahagun and Torquemada, Montezuma 
sends the same messengers whom he despatched the year before to seek 
Grijalva, but who arrived too late. Their names are Yohualychan, the leader, 
Tepuztecatl, Tizahua, Huehuetecatl, and Hueycamecatleca. With them a~e 
sent the presents already prepared for Grijalva, and the sacerdotal vestments 
of Quetzalcoatl. On reaching the flag-ship they inquire for their king and 
god Quetzalcoatl. At first surprised, Cort6s the next moment catches the 
clue. Seating himself on an improvised throne, surrounded by a large suite, 
he orders the messengers to appear. Being told that he is the personage 
whom they seek, they prostrate themselves, kissing the deck. The leader 
thereupon addresses him: 'Welcome, god and master; long have we, your 
servants and vassals, waited for you. Montezuma, your vassal and lieutenant, 


Early on Good Friday Cortes landed, planted guns 
upon the hillock, and began the construction of a 
fortified camp, consisting of houses, huts, and sheds, 
high in the centre of which was placed a large cross. 
Informed of this, the cacique sent men to carry timber, 
plaster the walls, and put up awnings. Food was also 
provided, and feather- work and gold were presented 
Cortes, with the information that the governor would 
visit him presently. Meanwhile the natives flocked 
in to trade, so that on Saturday the place presented 
the appearance of a fair, rather than the encampment 
of an invading army. 

On Easter Sunday, while preparations were made 
for mass, Cuitlalpitoc arrived with his chief, Teuhthle, 
governor of the province, whose residence was at 
Cuetlachtlan, eight leagues away. 8 Attending them 
was a lar^e retinue of nobles, and slaves 9 bearing 
presents. Cortes, with an escort, advanced to receive 

sends us to salute you, and begs the acceptance of this small present and 
these precious ornaments, once used by you as our king and god. ' They now 
array him in the vestments of Quetzalcoatl, adding also many ornaments 
pertaining to the gods Tezcatlipoca and Tlalocatecuhtli, as if to proclaim him 
the greatest of the gods. The most attractive pieces are a bejewelled and plume 
head-dress, and a necklace of precious stones. ' Is this all the gift of welcome 
that you bring?' asks Cortes. 'Lord and king, it is all that was given us 
for your Majesty,' was the reply. They are given food and accommodation 
for the night. In order to impress upon them the full extent of Spanish 
power, they are tied hands and feet while the horses are exhibited, the arms 
displayed, and the guns fired. They are then told that the white men have 
heard the fame of Mexican warriors, as able to overcome ten or even twenty 
times superior numbers, and desire a proof thereof by fighting them in equal 
force. Swords and shields are given them, but they decline, pleading their 
character as mere envoys. They are thereupon insulted as cowards, and told 
that the white men will descend upon their country, kill all who resist, take 
possession of the government, and secure better presents than those sent 
them. The messengers now hurry back to Mexico without informing any one 
on the way of what has occurred. Torquemcvla, i. 381-4; Sahagun, Hist. 
Co/iq., i. 7-11; Sigiienzay Gdngora, El Fenix, MS.', 273-8. 

8 Teudilli, or Quitaluor, from Cotosta, is Gomara's corrupt form. Hist. 
Mex. , 39. Herrera calls Teuthlille the chief governor, and Pitalpitoe a chief, 
dec. ii. lib. v. cap. iv. Teutile, captain-general, and Pilpatoe, governor. Soils, 
Hist. Mex., i. 119. Teotlili arrives on Monday. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 
286. 'Tendile, y Pitalpitoque eran Gouernadores de vnas Prouincias que se 
dizen, Cotastlan, Tustepeque, Guazpaltepeque, Tlatalteteclo, y de otros pue- 
blos que nueuamete tenia sojuzgados.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 26. He 
means, however, that Tendile is the chief governor. Pinotl had evidently left. 
Cuetlachtlan province appears to have extended from Rio Papaloapan, or 
Alvarado, to Rio de la Antigua. 

9 Ixtlilxochitl and Gomara place the number attending at over 4,000. 


them, and after interchange of courtesies led the way 
to the altar, draped in native cotton fabrics, where 
Father Olmedo celebrated mass, 10 aided by Father 
Juan Diaz, Aguilar, and a trained choir. The service 
over, Cortes invited the chiefs to dinner, and there 
informed them that he was a captain of the greatest 
monarch the sun smiled on, Charles V. of Spain, who, 
hearing of Montezuma's fame, had sent him presents 
and a message, which must be delivered in person 
immediately. 11 How easy the way to him who knows 
it! Had Cortes but spoken the simple word, "I am 
Quetzalcoatl, come to resume my rule," he might 
possibly at one time have ridden midst hosannas to 
the capital, and seated himself wuthout resistance on 
Montezuma's throne. 

But the minion of an earthly monarch is quite a 
different being from the fair god in the eyes of the 
Aztec officers, who answer somewhat hauglitily, " Be 
it known to you that our master is the inferior of 
none; and for the present let these gifts suffice." Say- 
ing which the signal is given; the slaves advance and 
deliver their burdens, consisting in part of food, cotton 
fabrics more than ten bales, brilliant feather-work, 
and a cacaxtli, or basket, filled with wrought gold set 
with rare stones and pearls. Cortes expressed thanks, 
and gave for Montezuma in return a carved and in- 
laid arm-chair, some engraved marcasite laid in musk- 
scented cotton, a bright red cap, a gold medal stamped 
with the figures of St George and the dragon, twisted 
strings of beads, and other articles; and would the 
emperor deign to wear the cap and occupy the chair 
when it became his pleasure to receive him? To 
the chiefs were also given some trifles. Teuhtlile 
promised to deliver to Montezuma the gifts and the 

10 Here Solis takes Bernal Diaz to task for asserting that mass had been 
already said on Friday. Hist. Mex., i. 121. But the scholar is too severe upon 
the soldier, whose head is true enough, however may be his tongue. 

1 ' All Gomara's fictions, ' sneers Las Casas, Hist. hid. , iv. 484, who ignores 
Marina's ability to interpret, and thinks the interview was limited to the sim- 
plest expressions conveyed by signs. 


message. Then pointing to the gilt helmet of a sol- 
dier, which resembled in form the head-dress of the 
idol Quetzalcoatl, he expressed a desire to show it 
to Montezuma. " Take it," said Cortes, "and brin^ 
it back filled with gold-dust, that we may show our 
emperor what kind of metal you have." 12 

Observing the native painters transcribing to amatl- 
paper the several novelties, and wishing to impress 
them further, Cortes mounted a horse, and ordered 
the troops to fall into line and the cannons to be 
charged. The infantry first passed in review to the 
sound of music with arms and banners displayed. 
Then came the cavalry with the best riders, led by 
Alvarado, dashing past in varied and swift evolutions. 
The graceful movements of the great animals, their 
rearing and prancing, and above all their speed; the 
flashing swords, the glittering armor, all seemed to 
these simple people like a scene from the supernatural. 
Their admiration was changed to terror, however, 
wdien the guns belched flames and smoke, and sent 
midst many thunderings the stone balls scudding 
along the beach or crashing among the trees. All, 
even their own fears, were faithfully depicted by the 
painters. On leaving, Teuhtlile gave orders to supply 
the Spaniards with every necessary, for which purpose 
two thousand of his people w^ere detailed to attend 
them, particularly to bring wood, water, and food. 
For their accommodation another cluster of huts was 
erected, so that within these few days two towns arose 
on the sands of Chalchiuhcuecan. Cuitlalpitoc, who 
remained for a time to superintend the service, received 
from his guests the name of Ovandillo. 13 

12 Carta del Ayunt., ubi sup., 19. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 39-41, while he 
does not refer to a helmet, states that Cortes asked for gold, as a remedy for 
heart disease, from which he and his men were suffering. 

13 'Dexo alii dos hombres principales, como capitanes, con hasta dos mil 
personas entre mugeres y hombres de scruicio, y f uese a Cotosta. ' Gomara, 
Hist. Mex., 41. He left over 1000 to wait upon the Spaniards, and over 1000 
to carry supplies. Las Casas, Hist. Intl., iv. 482; Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 
287 ; Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 26, supposes that Teuhtlile went in person 
to Mexico, but not so Gomara and Ixtlilxochitl. 


Montezuma was quickly in possession of all these 
facts; and when he saw the gifts, and read the picture 
writings, and learned how a woman, beautiful as the 
sun, talked to his people in their own language; more 
particularly when he compared the helmet with that 
worn by Huitzilopochtli, and was told that the 
terrible strangers insisted on an interview, apprehen- 
sion filled his soul. 14 Cuitlahuatzin, his brother, and 
Cacama of Tezcuco, were summoned to aid in telling 
him what to do. The council was divided. There 
was the popular belief regarding Quetzalcoatl with 
its attendant prognostics; on the other hand these 
strangers did not behave like gods. They had human 
appetites, overthrew the idols, claimed allegiance to 
another power, and had proved themselves vulnerable 
at Potonchan. Yet could beings wholly terrestrial 
so live without women, mount gigantic deer, and 
tame the lightning? Cacama thought tliey should 
have a hearing. The national honor demanded it; 
beside, refusal implied fear. Cuitlahuatzin saw in 
the visitation only evil to the commonwealth, and 
urged expulsion. The gods should decide; and very 
foolish gods they would have been to vote admission 
to their destroyers. And now behold the fatal folly 
of Montezuma! Instead of vigorous action toward 

1 ' ' Y dcsque vio el casco, y el que tenia su Huichilobos, tuuo por cierto, que 
eramos del linage de los que les auian dicho sua antepassados, que vendrian 
a scnorear aquesta tierra.' Bern al Diaz, Hist. Vcrdad., 26. This statement 
is followed by a cut at Gomara for giving unreliable information. Ca/margo, 
Hist. Tlasc, 141. The native version of Sahagun and Torquemada describes 
how the messengers are sprinkled with fresh human blood, as customary with 
important bearers of news, before presenting themselves before Montezuma. 
They arouse his admiration by speaking of the wonders beheld, of the pene- 
trating swords, the sulphurous smell of the thunder smoke, and cf the in- 
toxicating food; but when they relate how outrageously they have been 
treated and how the strangers threatened to conquer the country, then the 
emperor wept, and with him all the city. Sahagun, Hist. Conq., i. 12-13; 
Torquemada, i. 365-G; Acosta, Hist. Lid., 515-18. Brasseur de Bourbourg 
incorporates all tliis native version in his narrative, and allows Teuhtlile to 
reach Mexico with his report a few days after these messengers, thus con- 
firming their account. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 75-6. Duran writes that on hear- 
ing of Cortes' eagerness to obtain guides for Mexico, Montezuma began to 
grieve deeply over the prospect of having to resign and die. The envoy con- 
soled him by representing the benignity of the white gods, but he neverthe- 
less set about "bo arrange for the safety of his children. Hist. Ltd., MS., ii. 
39G-7; Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 253. 


the end determined on, he adopted a middle course. 
He would decline the interview, yet not rudely drive 
the strangers hence, lest, peradventure, they might 
be gods and successfully oppose him. He would send 
them liberal gifts, and beseech them to depart, thus 
exposing at once his weakness and his wealth. 15 

A diplomate of the first nobility was accordingly 
despatched to the sea-shore. With him went Teuh- 
tlile, returning after only a week's absence. 16 Numer- 
ous natives were in attendance, anions them over 
a hundred slaves. Bowing low before Cortes, who 
had on this occasion put on greater pomp than usual, 
the envoy touched the earth with his hand, carrying 
it to his lips, and then he swung the copal censer. 17 
Together with Teuhtlile he thereupon seated himself 
beside Cortes; and it was remarked how much alike 
they looked, the Spanish commander and the Aztec 
envoy, who, perhaps, had been selected for this 
reason, with the aid of the portraits made by the 
native painters, and as a mark of honor to the white 
captain. The soldiers not inappropriately called him 
the Mexican Cortes. 18 

The slaves were then directed to lay down the 
presents; among which were thirty bales of cotton 
fabrics, from gauzy curtains to heavy robes, white, 

15 Ixtlilxochiil, Hist. Chick., 287-8; Camargo, Hist. Tlasc, 141-2; Herrera, 
dec. ii. lib. v. cap. ix. Torquemada refers to the similar mistake of King 
Hezekiah of Judea, in exhibiting to the Assyrian envoys his wealth, and thus 
attracting invaders, i. 391, 404. 

10 This seems an incredibly short time in a country without horses, for 
Mexico lies over 200 miles by road from this part of the coast; but with 
numerous relays of runners and litter-bearers the distance would not take 
long to cover. ' Estas mensajerias fueru en vn dia, y vna noche del real de 
Cortes a Mexico, que ay setenta leguas y mas.' Gomarn, Hist. Alex., 41. 

17 Torquemada., i. 389, assumes this to have been in token of divine adora- 
tion, but the ceremony was a quite common mark of respect for distinguished 

persons. See Native Races, ii. 2S4. 'Nos llamaron Teules 6 dioses.' 

' Hence when I say Teules, or Gods, it may be understood to mean us,' says 
Bernal Diaz with conscientious pride. Hist. Verdad., 32. But the ten or 
teo prefix to names must be accepted in the same light as the incense burn- 
ing, and in this case equivalent to 'hero.' See also Clavijero, Storia Mess., 
iii. 19. 'Demonios' is Oviedo's translation of teules, iii. 500. 

18 Some writers doubt the ability of native painters to have given a suffi- 
ciently accurate portrait; but with the aid of explanatory signs there was 
little difficulty. 


colored, plain, and figured, 19 interwoven with feathers 
or embroidered with gold and silver thread; feathers 
and plumes of all colors, embroidered sandals, and 
marcasite mirrors. All these, however, were trifles 
beside the gold, the beautiful glittering gold which 
was now disclosed, and likewise the silver. Firsl 
there was a disk of the yellow metal, representing 
the sun with its rays, as large as a carriage wheel, 
ten spans in diameter, ornamented in demi-relief and 
valued at thirty-eight hundred pesos de oro. 20 A 
companion disk of solid silver, of the same size, and 
equally ornamented, represented the moon. 21 Then 
there were thirty golden ducks, well fashioned; a 
number of other pieces in form of dogs, lions, monkeys, 
and other animals; ten collars, a necklace with over 
one hundred pendent stones called emeralds and rubies 
by the Spaniards; twelve arrows, a bow with cord 
stretched, two staves each five palms in length; fans, 
bracelets, and other pieces, all of fine gold, beside a 
number of silver. What could have delighted the 
Spaniards more? One thing only, and that was not 
wanting — the gilt helmet returned full of virgin gold, 
fine dust and coarse, with a plentiful mixture of 
nuggets of various sizes and shapes, all fresh from 
the placers. The value of this was three thousand 

19 Some of them were checkered, which to Peter Martyr is a sufficient proof 
that the Mexicans played chess, dec. v. cap. x. 

20 Carta del Ay nut. de V. Cruz, in Cortes, Cartas, 29. ' Pessaba la de oro 
quatro mill y ochocientos pessos . . . tenia nueve palmos y medio de anchura e 
treynta de circunferencia, ; says Oviedo, who inspected the presents at Seville, 
evidently with mathematical precision, iii. 25 ( .J. ' Pesaua cien marcos, hecha 
como Sol, y con muchos follajes, y animalcs de relieue. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 
42. Peter Martyr, dec. iv. cap. ix. , describes the central figure as a king en- 
throned, surrounded with foliated ornaments. In the above Carta del Ayunt. 
a peso de oro and a castellano are shown to be equivalent, and a marco con- 
tains fifty castellanos. Writers differ widely in their calculations to reduce 
these coins to modern values, Prescott estimating the castellanos at $11.07 in 
United States money, and Ramirez, in a critical note thereupon, at $2.93. 
Prescott's Mex., i. 321; also edition Mex. 1845, app. ii. 79-92. See note on 
coins in Hist. Cent. Am., this series, i. 192-3. Clemencin, in Mem. Real Acad, 
d't J fid., vi. illust. 20, 525-4."), enters fully into the subject. 

81 Weighing 48 marcos. Carta del Ayunt., loc. cit. 'De cincuenta y tantos 
marcos, ternia de gordor como un toston de a 4 reales,' says Las Casas, 
who examined the gifts in Spain. Hist. Ind., iv. 4S5-0. 'Otra mayor rueda 
de plata.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 20. Robertson, Hist. Am., ii. 10, 449, 
misunderstanding Diaz, places the value of this disk at 20,000 pesos or £5000. 


pesos, and appreciation was attracted not so much by 
the amount as by the significance of the gift, as Ber- 
nal Diaz remarks, for it afforded a sure indication of 
the existence of rich mines in the country. "It was 
this gift which cost Montezuma his head." 22 says 
Tor quern ada. 

The words which followed fell on closed ears. 
These so greatly admired gifts are but a slight token 
of the high regard of the emperor, who would be 
pleased to form a friendship with his king; but he 
could not think of troubling Cortes to come to him 
through a hostile country; besides, he was ailing. 
Everything the visitors might wish to aid their de- 
parture would be instantly supplied. This and more. 
Poor, foolish monarch! As well might he ask the 
ravenous wolf to depart after giving it to lick a little 
blood from his scratched hand. For the gifts, a thou- 
sand thanks; but after so long a voyage, undertaken 
solely for the purpose, the Spanish captain dared not 
face his master without having seen the great Monte- 
zuma. As for the road, its difficulties or dangers were 
nothing. Would the chiefs present their monarch 
these further articles, and bring speedy answer? 23 

Meamvhile discussion was in order amono- the 
Spaniards, and speculation as to what should be 
done. Some advised immediate advance on Monte- 

22 Monarq. hid. , i. 390. ' Valdria el oro y la plata que alii habia 20 6 
25.000 castellanos, pero la hermosura dellas y la hechura, mucho mas. ' Las 
Casus, ubi sup. ' Podia valer este presente veynte mil ducados, o pocos mas. 
El qual present tenian para dar a Grijalua. ' Gomara, Hist. Alex. , 42. ' Q lo re- 
parta co los Teules que cosigo trae,' says Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdatl., 27, 
intimating that another present was coming for the white emperor ; but it 
was applied to the expedition treasury like nearly everything obtained by 
trade or seizure. Herrcra, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. v; Vetancvrt, Teatro Mer., pt. 
iii. 115. Brasseur de Bourbourg estimates the gold disk alone at 357,380 
francs. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 85. Peter Martyr, dec. iv. cap. ix., gives a de- 
tailed description of several of the presents. 

23 This time the presents for the chiefs were some embroidered shirts, silk 
sashes and other things, while to the emperor he sent a Florentine goblet, gilt 
and enamelled with figures, three Holland shirts, and some bead articles, not a 
very costly return for what he had received. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 27, 
and Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. vi., enumerate the presents given to them. 
' Teudilli . . . . le rogo mucho, q pues estaua mal aposentado en el capo y arenales, 
se fuesse con el a vnos lugares seys o siete leguas de alii. ' But Cortes de- 
clined to leave the camp. Gomara, Hist. Mex,> 43. 


zunia's capital; some, fearful of the nation's strength, 
as manifested by its arts and refinements, favored 
return to Cuba for reinforcements. Cortes let them 
talk, but said little. Traffic at first was freely per- 
mitted among the men, 24 and as the result was meagre 
Cortes did not think it worth while to require of them 
a division. To this irregularity certain of the Velaz- 
quez leaders objected, demanding at least that the 
royal fifth should be deducted; the commander there- 
fore ordered gold to be received only by Gonzalo 
Mejia, as treasurer. 25 

Ten days elapsed before Teuhtlile returned, without 
the envoy, 26 but followed by a file of slaves bearing, 
among other things, as a present to the Spanish king, 
ten loads of rich feathers and robes, some gold figures 
valued at three thousand pesos, and four chalchiuite 
stones, each declared to be worth a load of gold, but 
of no value to Europeans. 

Teuhtlile then stated that further messages to 
the emperor were useless, since the desired inter- 
view could not be granted. He hoped the Spaniards 
would content themselves with the promised supplies 
and depart in peace. 

Turning to his companions, Cortes said: " Truly 
this must be a great lord, and rich ; and, God willing, 
some day we will visit him." Just then the bell 
struck for Ave Maria, and instantly, with uncovered 
heads, the soldiers were kneeling round the cross. 
The priests, ever ready to preach their faith where 
an opportunity presented, were soon at work. His 
words, however, made a bad impression on the gov- 
ernor, as had also the evasive answer of Cortes to his 

24 'Y aquel oro que rescatauamos dauamos a los hombres que traiamos de 
la mar, que iban a pescar, a trueco de su pescado. ' Bemal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 
27. If so it was probably after the Indians deserted. 

15 Gomara refers to an order to stop all barter for gold, with a view to let 
it appear that the Spaniards cared not for the metal, and thus to induce the 
Indians to make no secret of the manner in which it was obtained. J fist. Mex. , 
39. As if the natives had not already learned what we wanted, sneers 
Bernal Diaz. 

20 'Que se dezia Quintalbor, no bolvio mas, porque auia adolecido en el 
camino.' Bernal Diaz, Hint. Verdad., 27. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 9 


message. He bade a cold farewell, and the next 
morning the Spaniards awoke to find the native en- 
campment deserted, and even the supplies carried 
away. Precautions were now taken against probable 
attack, by sending on board the provisions and all 
cumbrous articles, leaving embarkation easy at any 
moment. 27 

27 According to Gomara, Hist. Mcx. , 45, Cortes told the governor that he 
would not leave without seeing Montezuma. Solis elaborates this as usual 
into a long speech, to which Teuhtlile replies with threats, and turning his 
back stalks out of the camp. Conq. Mex., i. 153-5; Herrera, dec. i. lib. v. 
cap. vi. 



May, 1519. 

Serious Dilemma of Cortes — Authority without Law — Montejo Sent 
Northward — Recommends another Anchorage — Dissensions at 
Vera Cruz — Prompt and Shrewd Action of Cortes — A Munici- 
pality Organized — Cortes Resigns — And is Chosen Leader by the 
Municipality — Velazquez' Captains Intimate Rebellion — Cortes 
promptly Arrests Several of Them — Then he Conciliates them 
all — Important Embassy from Cempoala — The Veil Lifted — The 
March to Cempoala — What was Done there — Quiahuiztlan — The 
Coming of the Tribute Gatherers — How They were* Treated — 
Grand Alliance. 

At this point in his . career Hernan Cortes found 
himself less master of the situation than suited him. 
The color of his command was not sufficiently pro- 
nounced. He had no authority to settle; he had no 
authority to conquer; he might only discover and 
trade. He did not care for Velazquez ; anything that 
pertained to Velazquez he was prepared to take. But 
Velazquez had no legal power to authorize him further. 
Cortes cared little for the authorities at Espanola; the 
king was his chief dependence ; the king to whose favor 
his right arm and mother wit should pave the way. 
Some signal service, in the eyes of the monarch, 
might atone for slight irregularities; if he failed, the 
Beverest punishments were already come. But where 
was the service? Had Montezuma granted him an 
interview, he might make report of that, and find 
listeners. As it was, he could land and slay a few 
thousand natives, but his men would waste away and 
no benefits accrue. Nevertheless, if he could plant 



himself somewhat more firmly on this soil than his 
commission seemed to justify, chance might offer oppor- 
tunity, and the signal service find achievement. Such 
were the thoughts that just now filled his sagacious 
brain, but the way was by no means clear before him. 

While the events narrated in the preceding chapter 
were in progress, Montejo, with two vessels, had been 
sent northward to seek a harbor less unwholesome 
than the present, where many of those wounded at 
Tabasco had died. 1 As second in command went 
Rodrigo Alvarez Chico, and as pilots, Alaminos, and 
Alvarez el Manquillo. On reaching the extreme 
point attained by Grijalva, the strong current pre- 
vented further advance, as in the former attempt. 2 
They were obliged by a gale to throw overboard 
part of their cargo. Water failed, and in the attempt 
to land an artilleryman perished. Prayer was now 
their only recourse, and this not only changed the 
wind, but brought rain. After a fortnight of mis- 
adventures 3 they returned to San Juan do Ulua, and 
hastened bareheaded to the cross to offer thanks. 
More wholesome airs were not difficult to find, but 
good harbors were not abundant thereabout. The 
only favorable spot found by Montejo lay some ten 
leagues north of the camp, close to the native fortress 
of Quiahuiztlan. 4 A high rock affording shelter from 

1 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 27. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. vi., and 
others refer to a similar number as being on the sick-list. Yellow fever, or 
vomito negro, now the scourge of this and adjoining regions, appears to have 
developed with the growth of European settlements, and Clavigero states that 
it was not known there before 1725. Storia Mess.', i. 117. 

2 ' Hasta el parage del rio grande de Panuco. ' Herrera, loc. cit. ' Llegaron 
al parage del rio grande, que es cerca de Panuco, adonde otra vez llegamo 
quado lo del Capita Juan de Grijalua. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 27. 

3 'Doze dias que gastaron en este peligroso viage.' Herrera, ubi sup. 'Bol- 
uiose al cabo de tres semanas . . . . le salian los de la costa, y se sacaua sangre, y 
se la ofrecia en pajuelos por amistad a deidad. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 45. 

i IxtWxochitl, Hist. Chick., 289. Quiauitl, rain or shower. Molina, Vocabtt- 
lario. Hence rainy place. Herrera calls it Chianhuitzlan, and this has been 
adopted by Clavigero and most other writers. Prescott, Mex., i. 348, in a 
note holds up Clavigero as a standard for the spelling of Mexican names, but 
he forgets that the Italian form, as in the above case, would be misleading to 
English people. 


north winds gave the place some resemblance to 
the Spanish harbor of Bernal, which name was ac- 
cordingly applied to it. Extending inland were green 
fields fringed with fine timber, and supplied with 
creeks of good water. 5 

The fifty men comprising the expedition of Montejo 
had been picked from the adherents of Velazquez, in 
order that by weakening this faction Cortes might 
be allowed to develop his plans. For the army was 
slowly but surely drifting into division, as we have so 
often found in adventures of this kind, and the Velaz- 
quez party comprised all who desired immediately to 
return. In this clique were many wealthy and in- 
fluential men who cared no more for Velazquez than 
for Cortes, but who had possessions in Cuba, and 
were becoming impatient to return to them. Nor was 
there much difficulty in giving form to discontent. 
There were grave suspicions afloat as to the loyalty 
of the commander; but these, which assuredly were 
more conspicuous in Cuba than here, were of little 
moment when they harmonized with the wishes of 
the men. What stupidity in forming camp amidst 
such malaria, and in so early making enemies of the 
people. It was evident, so they argued, that the 
commander intended to sacrifice the company to his 

The action of Cortes here as elsewhere marks the 
great man, the man of genius, the born master of 
men, and rightfully places him beside the Cassars and 
the Napoleons of the world. The commander wished 
to remain. All his fortune, all the fortunes of his 
friends were staked on this adventure, and he would 
rather die than return unsuccessful. Little hope there 
would be of his obtaining command again; he would 

5 'Le llamaro Vernal, por ser, como es, vn Cerro alto.' Vetancvrt, Teatro 
M'-x., pt. iii. 115. This may have been the origin of the name for the Spanish 
port, after which Bernal Diaz says it was called. Hist. VerdatL, 27. He 
applies the name to a neighboring fort, spelling it in different ways, of which 
Solis, and consequently Robertson, have selected the most unlikely. Gomara 
applies Aquiahuiztlan to the harbor. Hist. Mcx., 49. 


not return, neither would he just at present die. In 
desperate cases spirited counsels and spirited actions 
are usually safest. 

Calling to him his most trusty followers, Puerto- 
carrero, Alvarado and his brothers, Avila, Olid, Esca- 
lante, and Francisco Lugo, he laid the situation fairly 
before them. Shortty after these captains were out 
among the men, holding forth to them privately on 
the wealth of the country, the ease and glory of con- 
quest, and the prospect of repartimientos. Where was 
the benefit of returning to Cuba? Surely they might 
as well hold the country for themselves as to aban- 
don it and let others step into their places. It would 
be much easier to increase the present force by add- 
ing to it than to raise a new army better appointed 
or larger than this. Nor did they forget the argu- 
ment of religion, which, however hollow in practice, 
was weighty enough in theory. " Elect therefore to 
remain," they said in conclusion; "and choose the 
able and generous Cortes for your general and justicia 
mayor till the emperor decides in the matter." 6 

The opposition was by no means ignorant of 
these manoeuvres, and Ordaz was commissioned to 
remonstrate with Cortes. He dwelt on the danger 
of present colonization, denounced any attempt to 
ignore Velazquez, and insisted on instant return. 
Suppressing the anger naturally arising from these 
insinuations, true as they were, Cortes disavowed 
any intention of exceeding the instructions of his 
commission. For himself he preferred to remain, as, 
among other reasons, the onlv means of reimbursing 
himself for his heav} r expenditures. If, however, it 

6 Bernal Diaz relates with great satisfaction how earnestly the speaker 
pleaded for his vote, addressing him repeatedly as 'your worship. ' One reason 
for their earnestness, he implies, was the superiority in number of the Velaz- 
quez partj r . ' Losdeudos, y amigos del Diego Velazquez, que eran muchos mas 
que nosotros.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 2S-9. He forms this estimate 
most likely on the proportion of leaders who from jealousy of Cortes, and for 
ether reasons, were addicted to Velazquez; but their men were probably 
more in favor of the general than of the captains, to judge from the result. 
The sailors for obvious reasons may have added to the Velazquez -number, if 
not to their strength. 


was the will of the army to return, he would yield. 
A few hours later appeared an order to embark the 
following day for Cuba; This, as was intended, 
brought public feeling to a crisis. All saw their 
golden hopes suddenly dashed to the ground, their 
visions of honors and repartimientos dispelled; even 
the men so lately clamorous to return were not 
prepared to find their request so readily granted. 
Would it not be well to think further of the matter, 
and perhaps devise a plan to cover the emergency? 
After noisy discussion the soldiers appeared in force 
before the captain-general and demanded the revoca- 
tion of the order. They had left Cuba with the de- 
clared understanding that a colony was to be planted, 
and now they were informed that Velazquez had 
given no authority to settle. And if he had not, 
were not the interests of God and the king par- 
amount to the order of any governor? And did not 
this same Velazquez defame Grijalva for not disobey- 
ing instructions in this very regard? With no small 
satisfaction Cortes saw that he was safe ; then urmnsr 
calm deliberation he graciously promised delay, 7 
which was employed first of all in impressing on their 
minds how indispensable he was to their success. 

Finally before the assembled army the captain- 
general appeared and said: That he had invested his 
whole fortune in the fleet, and controlled it; jet he 
was willing to subordinate his individual interest to 
that of the whole. He had given the order to return 
because he understood such to be the will of the 
majority. As this was not the case, he would gladly 
remain; for God who had ever been with them was 
now disclosing such a field of wealth and glory as had 
never before been offered to Spaniard. Yet, if any 
wished to return, let them freely speak, and a vessel 
would be at their disposal. What magic power ruled, 
that, when the disaffected majority were thus given 

' Se hazia mncho de rogar: y como dize el refran: Tu me lo ruegas, e yo 
me lo quiero.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 29. 


their way, every mouth was dumb, and the commander 
remained more potent than ever? 

A colony being thus decided on, the founding 
ceremony was performed by the quasi laying out of 
a town, the planting a pillory in the plaza, and a 
gallows at some distance outside, 8 though strictly 
speaking, the town was not properly located or laid 
out till afterward. Referring to the treasures here 
obtained, and to the day of landing, the new town 
was called Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. 9 Cortes, as 
commander, appointed the municipal officers, 10 naming 
for alcaldes Puertocarrero and Montejo, a judicious 
selection, both for his own interests and as likely 
to meet general approval. And here again is dis- 
played the subtle policy of Cortes, who to this im- 
portant position nominates but one from among his 
own faction, Montejo being for Velazquez. Thus of 
an opponent he made an adherent, conciliating at 
the same time the entire Velazquez party. 11 The 
regidores were Alonso de Avila, Pedro and Alonso 
de Alvarado, and Gonzalo de Sandoval; procurador 
general, Francisco Alvarez Chico ; alguacil mayor, Juan 
de Escalante; escribano, Diego de Godoy. Beside 
these were appointed, in the interests of the military 
department, as capitan de entradas, Pedro de Alva- 
rado; maestre de campo, Cristobal de Olid; alferez, 
Corral; alguaciles de real, Ochoa and Romero; teso- 
rero, Gonzalo Mejia; contador, Alonso de Avila. 12 

8 ' Se puso vna picota en la placa, y fuera de la Uilla vna horca. ' Bernal Diaz, 
Hint. Verdad., 29; Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 116. This signifies that 
justice was installed, its officers being next appointed. 

9 See note 23, chap. ii. , this volume. 

10 'Nombr6nos. . . .por alcaldes y regidores,' say distinctly the appointed 
officers themselves, in their letter to the emperor. Carta del Ayunt., in Cortes, 
Cartas, 20. Bernal Diaz also indicates that Cortes made the appointments, 
although he at first says, ' hizimos Alcalde, y ttegidores. ' Yet it is probable that 
the authorities were confirmed formally as they were tacitly by the members 
of the expedition; for Cortes, as he acknowledges, had no real authority to 
form a settlement. 

11 Testimonio de Montejo, in Col. Doc. hied., i. 489. 'A este Montejo porque 
no estaua muy bien con Cortes, por metelle en los primeros, y principal, le 
mandb nombrar por Alcalde. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 29. 

12 Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. vii ; Torquemada, i.. 587. Bernal Diaz skips 
the regidores. He thinks Villareal was not reappointed alferez because of 


Nearly all these men were devoted to Cortes, and 
were therefore a powerful point dJappui for his project. 
Thus far all was well. The men of Velazquez and 
the men of Cortes, Spaniards all, for the same God 
and the same king, had of their own volition deter- 
mined here t^ plant a Spanish settlement, and had so 
planted it. By virtue of his office, and in the ab- 
sence of any higher authority, the captain -general 
had chosen temporary officers for the new common- 
wealth. This was all. These men had elected to 
transform the army into a civil society, for temporary 
or permanent purposes as the case might be ; and they 
had done so. But about their leader? What position 
did he occupy ? A general without an army, de facto 
at the head of affairs, but by no legal right. Let 
him cut his own knot. 

Hat in hand, before the new municipality, Cortes 
appeared and surrendered his commission. Authority, 
chief and absolute, was now vested alone in the ayun- 
tamiento. Then with the modesty of Cincinnatus he 

It was then in order, on the part of the munici- 
pality, to choose a chief ruler and representative of 
royal authority. This could be done by the council 
alone, though in this instance, for obvious reasons, it 
would be better to secure the appointment by popular 
vote. Cortes felt safe enough either way. A glowing 
eulogy delivered by a fluent speaker was followed by 
such noisy demonstrations that the opposition found 
no opportunity to express their opinion. 13 The folio w- 

a difficulty with Cortes about a Cuban female. Hist. Verdad., 29; Vetancvrt, Mex., pt. iii. 116. Promotion and other causes gave speedy rise to 
changes among the officials ; Avila, for instance, becoming alcalde mayor of 
New Spain, and Pedro de Alvarado alcalde of the town. 

13 ' Los q para esto estaua auisados, sin dar lugar a que nadie tomasse la 
mano. A vozes respodiero Cortes, Cortes.' Ilerrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. vii. 
Bernal Diaz merely intimates that a 'packed' meeting was held, by stating 
that the men of Velazquez were furious on finding Cortes and the munici- 
pality elected, declaring, 'q no era bien hecho sin ser sabidores dello todos los 
Capitanes, y soldados.' Hist. Verdad., 29. This indicates also that many of 
the opponents must have been sent away from camp for the occasion, perhaps 
on board the vessels. Montejo had besides a number with him. 


ing day a committee was sent to apprise Cortes of 
his election, 14 in the name of their Catholic High- 
nesses, to the offices of captain-general, and of justicia 
mayor of the town. On appearing before the council 
to take the oath, the alcalde addressed Cortes, giv- 
ing as reason for the appointment his loyalty, his 
worth, and his talents. The commission which was 
then given granted him one fifth of all treasure ac- 
quired by trade or conquest, after deducting the 
royal fifth. This was in consideration chiefly for 
his services as leader. 15 Exitas acta probat. Las 

14 'El qual como si nada supiera del caso, pregtmtd que era lo que mandaua. ' 
Having signified his acceptance, 'Quisiero besarle las manos por ello, como 
cosa al bien de todos. ' Herrera, ubi sup. 

la Gomara says frankly, ' Cortes acepto el cargo de capitan general y 
justicia mayor, a pocos ruegos, porq no desseaua otra cosa mas por entonces.' 
Hist. Mex., 4<S. 'Y no tuvo vergiienza Gomara,' is Las Casas' comment on 
the admission. Hist. Lid., iv. 496. Bernal Diaz states that Cortes had made 
it a condition, when the army pleaded to remain in the country, that he 
should receive these offices: 'Y lo peor de todo que le otorgamos que le 
dariamos el quinto del oro.' Hist. Verdacl., 29. The letter of the ayunta- 
miento to the emperor sets forth that they had represented to Cortes the 
injustice of trading gold for the sole benefit of Velazquez and himself, and 
the necessity of securing the country and its wealth for the king by founding 
a colony, which would also benefit them all in the distribution of grants. 
They had accordingly urged him to stop barter as hitherto carried on, and 
to found a town. It is then related how he yielded his own interest in favor 
of king and community, and appointed them alcaldes and regidores. His 
authority having in consequence become null, they appointed him in the 
king's name justicia, alcalde mayor, and captain, as the ablest and most loyal 
man, and in consideration of his expenses and services so far. Carta 10 
Jul., 1519, in Cortes, Cartas, 19-21. Both Puertocarrero and Montejo con- 
firm, in their testimony before the authorities in Spain, that Cortes yielded 
to the general desire in doing what he did. Col. Doc. Ined., i. 489, 493-4. 
According to Gomara, CortCs makes a trip into the neighboring country, and, 
finding how rich it is, he proposes to settle, and to send the vessels to Cuba 
for more men wherewith to undertake the conquest. This was approved : 
Cortes accordingly appointed the municipality, and resigning the authority 
conferred by the Jeronimite Fathers and by Velazquez, as now useless, these 
officers in turn elected him as their captain -general and justicia mayor. The 
council proposed that, since the only provisions remaining belonged to Cortes, 
he should take from the vessels what he needed for himself and servants, and 
distribute the rest among the men at a just price, their joint credit being 
pledged for payment. The fleets and outfit were to be accepted by the com- 
pany in the same way, the vessels to be used to carry provisions from the 
islands. Scorning the idea of trading his possessions, Cortes surrendered the 
fleet and effects for free distribution among his companions. Although 
liberal at all times with them, this act was prompted by a desire to gain 
good- will. Hist. Mex., 46-8; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. vii. ; Torquenvtda, 
i. 393, 587. Las Casas terms the whole transaction, as related by Gomara and 
the ayuntamiento, a plot to defraud Velazquez of his property and honors. 
Comparing the conduct of Cortes with that of Velazquez against- Colon, he 
finds the latter trifling and pardonable, while the former was a barefaced 


Casas insists that, since Cortes had no authority to 
form a settlement, his appointment of an ayuntamiento 
was illegal, and consequently their election of him. 
No one supposed for a moment, least of all Cortes, 
that these proceedings were regular. They were 
but make-believe legal. But in following Gomara's 
version Las Casas failed to understand that the 
appointment was conferred by the popular majority 
in the name of the king, which though not strictly 
legal threw over all the color of law. Beside, with 
consummate skill Cortes made it appear that the 
expedition obliged him to act as he did; and if these 
manoeuvres did not legalize the transaction, they were 
the means of weaving a strong bond between the 
men and their leader, such as King Charles and all 
his ordinance-makers never could have created. Cor- 
tes was no longer the chief of Velazquez' expedition, 
but the leader of the Vera Cruz militia, as" the army 
might now be termed, and removable only by the 
power that placed him there, or by the emperor. 16 

Although opposition was now in vain, the ad- 
herents of Velazquez loudly denounced the whole 
affair, called it a conspiracy and a cheat, and refused 
to acknowledge Cortes as their leader. So abusive 
did they become that open rupture was imminent. 
The leaders of this faction were Velazquez de Leon, 
Ordaz, Escobar, Pedro Escudero, Morla, and the 

robbery, resulting to Velazquez in loss of fortune, honors, and life. The cap- 
tains were accomplices. Hist. Lid., iv. 453, 494-6. Peter Martyr gives the 
facts in brief without venturing an opinion, dec. v. cap. i. ; Zumdrraga, in 
Ramirez, Doc, MS., 271-2. Cort£s still held out the offer to furnish a vessel 
for those who preferred to return to Cuba. As for Velazquez' goods, they 
remained safely in charge of the authorized agent, who also recovered the 
advances made to members. See note 5, cap. v. 

16 As for the ayuntamiento, the passive recognition accorded to it, con- 
firmed as it was by the popularly elected general, may be regarded as sufficient. 
Spanish municipal bodies possessed an extensive power conferred upon them 
during successive reigns, chiefly with a view to afford the sovereign a support 
against the assuming arrogance of the nobles. Their deliberations were 
respected ; they could appoint members, regulate their expenses, and even 
raise troops under their own standard. As an instance of the consideration 
enjoyed by these troops, it is related that Isabella the Catholic, when re- 
viewing the army besieging Moclin, gave a special salute of respect to the 
banner of Seville. Alaman, Disert., i. 612; Zamacois, Hist. Mej., ii. 401-2. 


priest Juan Diaz. Seeing the necessity of prompt 
action, Cortes seized the first two, with a few others, 
and sent them on shipboard in irons, while Alva- 
rado went a-foraging with a hundred men, chiefly 
adherents of the disaffected leaders. 17 They found a 
fertile country, and several small towns. The in- 
habitants fled at their approach, leaving signs of re- 
cent human sacrifices in the temple. In one building, 
with pyramidal foundation several feet in height, 
were found a number of fine rooms, some filled with 
grain, beans, honey, and other provisions; others 
with cotton fabrics and feathers, adorned in instances 
with gold and silver. In obedience to strict orders 
nothing was touched save food. The report brought 
back of the beauty of the country, together with the 
ample supplies obtained, tended toward harmony ; and 
while the soldiers were thus easily reconciled to the 
new order of things, Cortes with his usual tact won 
over nearly all his adversaries. Some he bribed, 
some he flattered; others were allured with hopes 
of preferment. Most remarkable was it that with 
such fire in his veins, he could so control it; for how- 
ever treacherous Cortes knew them to be, seldom a 
sign escaped him that he suspected them. Even the 
imprisoned officers yielded to his persuasive power, 
aided as it was by irons, and soon were ranked among 
his devoted sustainers. 18 

And now came to pass an event such as the gods 
not unfrequently fling their favorites, which was ma- 
terially to brighten the prospects of the Spaniards. 
While preparing their removal to a new harbor, 
and shortly after the Mexican withdrawal from inter- 

17 According to Gomara, Cortes enters the country with 400 men and all the 
horses, before the election had been mooted. He describes the towns visited. 
Hist. Mex., 46-8. Bernal Diaz pronounces the number of men and the time 
of entry false. He also states that Montejo was bought over for 2000 pesos 
and more. Hist. Ver tad., 30. 

18 According to Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 30, gold played an important 
role in effecting this change of allegiance, termed by Velazquez, in his Me- 
morials to Spain, a witchery. Solis sees nothing but the dignified .yet clever 
traits of his hero in all this. 


course, Bernal Diaz brought in from his outpost five 
Indians, different in dress and features from any 
hitherto seen. Among other peculiarities were large 
gold rings, set with stones, in their perforated ears, 
nose, and lower lip. Two of them, who spoke Mexi- 
can, explained the purport of their visit. The deeds 
of the Spaniards having reached the ears of their 
master, the lord of Cempoala, in the Totonac country, 
they had been sent to see these valiant beings, and in- 
vite them to their city a few leagues distant. 19 Ques- 
tionings revealed that the Totonacs were a subjected 
nation, languishing like others under the oppressive 
yoke of the Aztecs, and only too ready to welcome 

It must be remembered that Cortes and his com- 
panions were wholly in the dark as to the power 
and positions of the interior nations. Now for the 
first time a little light was shed on the subject. It 
appeared that the mighty monarch, with whom took 
place the late interchange of courtesies, had enemies 
who, if not as powerful as himself, were still strong, 
and in spirit, at least, unsubdued. Might not this 
adverse influence be utilized and joined to other ad- 
verse influences for the humbling of the great interior 
power ? Possibly Montezuma might grant Cortes 
audience under circumstances yet to be. Thus the 
plan of the conquest was conceived. The messengers 
were dismissed with presents and the assurance of a 
speedy visit. 20 

According to Ixtlilxochitl, the first revelation of 
Aztec weakness was made by his ancestor and name- 
sake, the king of northern Acolhuacan. 21 Fearing the 
power and treachery of Montezuma and his allies, and 

19 The soldiers called them Lopelucios, because their first inquiry was 
Lopelucio, 'chief,' whom they wished to see. They had not ventured to ap- 
proach while the Mexicans were at the camp. Bernal Diaz, Hint. VerdcuL, 28. 

20 According to Gomara, followed by Herrera, the Totonacs were about 
twenty in number, and came while Teuhtlile was absent on his second mission 
to Mexico, without bringing a direct invitation to the Spaniards. Hist. 
Mux., 43-4. 

21 See Native Races, v. 47o-7. 


hating the Aztecs with a perfect hatred, this prince 
had hailed with joy the arrival of the Spaniards, and 
had gloated over the terror with which their presence 
would inspire the emperor. The prospect of gaining 
an ally who might aid his own ambitious plans for 
supremacy, and for Mexican humiliation, impelled him 
to send an embassy to Cortes with rich presents, and 
with instructions to explain to the strangers the 
prevailing disaffection, the ease with which the Aztecs 
might be overthrown, and the rare spoils that would 
accrue to the conquerors. The interview with Cortes 
is placed at about the same time as the Totonac visit, 
and Ixtlilxochitl is said to have received the morst 
friendly assurances from Cortes. 22 Be that as it may, 
here was an incident which should crush all cavillings. 

As well to examine the country as to inure the 
troops to whatever experience should be theirs on this 
strange shore, Cortes with about four hundred men and 
two light guns proceeded by land to Cempoala, while 
the fleet with the heavy camp material and the re- 
mainder of the expedition coasted farther northward 
to Quiahuiztlan. 

Burning: overhead was the sun: burning underfoot 
were the sands; while on the one side was the tan- 
talizing sea, and on the other the tantalizing wood, 
both inviting by their cool refreshing airs. Behind 

22 Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., 288. This author is not very careful, however, 
and his desire to court the Spaniards has no doubt led him to antedate the 
event. Brasseur de Bourbourg accepts his story in full. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 
87-8. A similar revelation is claimed to have been made by two Aztec chiefs, 
Vamapantzin and Atonal tzin, who came to the camp in the retinue of the first 
messengers from Mexico. Descendants of the early Aztec kings, and discon- 
tented with the present ruler, they promised Cortes to deliver certain native 
paintings foretelling the coming of white men, to reveal the whereabouts of 
the imperial treasures, and to plot an uprising among native states in aid of 
Spaniards. For these services they received extensive grants after the con- 
quest, including that of Ajapusco town. The document recording this is a 
fragment which Zerecero parades in the opening part of his Mem. Rev. Mix. , 
8-14, as a discovery by him in the Archivo General. It pretends to be a title 
to Ajapusco lands, and contains on the first pages a letter signed by Cortes at 
San Juan de Ulua, '20 March,' 1519, as 'Captain -general and governor of 
these New Spains.' Both the date and titles stamp the letter at least as more 
than suspicious. 


the dark-fringed forests rose old Orizaba, 23 laughing 
at their distress beneath its cap of snow, and wonder- 
ing why mortals so superior should choose the deadly 
tierra caliente country for their promenade, when 
gentle, genial Anahuac lay so near. But presently 
the senses quickened to the aroma of vegetation ; soft 
swards and cultivated fields spread before them their 
living green, and the moist, murmuring wood anon 
threw over them its grateful shade. If beside grave 
thoughts on the stupendous matters then under 
consideration, might find place such trifles of God's 
creation as birds of brilliant plumage and of sweet 
song, they were there in myriads to charm the eye 
and ear; game to fill the stomach, though not so 
satisfying as gold, always commanded attention, and 
was also plentiful. 21 Through all, dispensing life and 
beauty on every side, flowed the Rio de la Antigua, 
where a few years later rose old Vera Cruz-. 25 

Crossing this stream with the aid of rafts and 
shaky canoes, the army quartered on the opposite 
bank, in one of the towns there, which was desti- 
tute alike of food and people, but which displayed the 

1Z The natives called it Citlaltepetl, starry mountain, with reference probably 
to the sparks issuing from it. For height, etc. , see Humboldt, Essai Pol., i. 273. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg gives it the unlikely name of Ahuilizapan. Hist. Nat. 
Civ., iv. 99. The ending 'pan' implies a district or town, not a mountain. The 
description in Carta del Ayunt., in Cortes, Cartas, 22-3, expresses doubt 
whether the whiteness of the summit is due to snow or to clouds. 

'^Alvarado chased a deer, and succeeded in wounding it, but the next 
moment the dense underbrush saved it from pursuit. The Carta del Ayunt., 
loc. cit. , gives a list of birds and quadrupeds ; and a descriptive account, 
founded greatly on fancy, however, is to be found in the curious Erasmi 
Francisci Guitteischer und Americanischer Blumen-Pusch, Nurnberg, 1G69, 
wherein the compiler presents under the title of a nosegay the 'perfume of 
the wonders of strange animals, of peculiar customs, and of the doings of the 
kings of Peru and Mexico. ' The first of its two parts is devoted to the animal 
kingdom, with particular attention to the marvellous, wherein credulity finds 
free play, as may be seen also in the flying dragon of one of the crude en- 
gravings. In the second part, the aborigines, their history, condition, and 
customs, are treated of, chiefly under Peru and Mexico, chapter v. relating 
specially to the latter country. The narrative is quite superficial and fragmen- 
tary ; the 'nosegay' being not only common but faded, even the style and type 
appearing antiquated for the date. Appended is Hemrnersam, Guineische und 
n i ■<(- hid) anische llzissbeschreibuuy, with addition byDietherr, relating to Africa 
and Brazil. 

J 'A tres leguas andadas llego alrio que parte termino con tierras de Mon- 
teccuma.' Goiaara, Hist. Mex.,40; Torquemada, i. 395. 


usual ghastly indications of recent human sacriiice. 
The next morning they followed the river westward, 
and soon after met a party of twelve Totonacs, who 
had been sent by the Cempoalan ruler with presents 
of food. By them the Spaniards were guided north- 
ward to a hamlet where a bountiful supper was pro- 
vided. 26 While marching the next day, with scouts 
deployed as usual to guard against ambuscades, they 
emerged from a dense tropical forest into the midst 
of gardens and orchards, and by a sudden turn in the 
road the bright buildings of Cempoala stood forth to 

Just then twenty nobles appeared and offered wel- 
come. They w T ere followed by slaves, and instantly 
the travel -worn army was revelling in fruits and 
flowers. What more beautiful reception could have 
been given? yet the Spaniards would have preferred 
a shower of gold. To Cortes w T ere given bouquets; 
a garland, chiefly of roses, was flung around his neck, 
and a wreath placed upon his helmet. Species of 
pineapples and cherries, juicy zapotes, and aromatic 
anones were distributed to the men without stint. 
Almost the entire populace of the city, some twenty- 
five thousand/ 7 staring their wonderment with open 
e} 7 es and mouth, thronged either side of the way 
along which marched the army in battle array, headed 
by the cavalry. Never before had the Spaniards seen 
so beautiful an American city. Cortes called it Seville, 

26 Gomara, who ignores the previous night's camp, states that the detour up 
the river was made to avoid marshes. They saw only isolated huts, and fields, 
and also about twenty natives, who were chased and caught. By them they 
were guided to the hamlet. Hist. Mex\, 49. They met one hundred men 
bringing them food. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., 289. Prescott allows the 
Spaniards to cross only a tributary of la Antigua, and yet gain Cempoala. 
Mex., i. 339-40. 

27 Las Casas says 20,000 to 30,000. Hist, lnd., iv. 492. Torquemada varies 
in different places from 25,000 to 150,000. The inhabitants were moved by 
Conde de Monterey to a village in Jalapa district, and in Torquemada's time 
less than half a dozen remained, i. 397. 'Dista de Vera-Cruz quatro leguas, 
y las ruinas dan a entender la grandeza de la Ciudad ; pero es distinto de otro 
Zempoal . . . . que dista de este doze leguas.' Lorenzana, in Cortes, Hist. N. 
Espafta, 39. 'Assentada en vn llano entre dos rios.' A league and a half from 
the sea. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. viii. 


a name which Spaniards frequently applied to any place 
that pleased them, as we have seen, while the soldiers, 
charmed with its floral wealth and beauty, termed 
it Villaviciosa, and declared it a terrestrial paradise. 
One of the cavalry scouts, on first beholding the 
freshly stuccoed walls gleaming in the sun, came gal- 
loping back with the intelligence that the houses 
were silver-plated. It was indeed an important place, 
holding a large daily market. A central plaza was 
inclosed by imposing temples and palaces, resting 
on pyramidal foundations, lined with apartments and 
surmounted by towers, and around clustered neat 
dwellings with whitened adobe walls embowered in 
foliage. Statelier edifices of masonry, some having 
several court -yards, rose here and there, while in 
every direction spread an extensive suburb of mud 
huts with the never failing palm-leaf roof. Yet even 
the humblest abodes were smothered in ' flowers. 28 
The people also, as we might expect by their sur- 
roundings, were of a superior order, well formed, of 
intelligent aspect, clothed in neat white and colored 
cotton robes and mantles, the nobles being adorned 
with golden necklaces, bracelets, and nose and lip 
rings, set with pearls and precious stones. 

When the troops reached the plaza, Chicomacatl, 29 
lord of the province, stepped from the palace to 
receive his guests. He was supported by two nobles, 
and though enormously stout, 30 his features denoted 
high intelligence, and his manner refinement. He was 
more of a gentleman than many of the Spaniards, 
whose merriment over his corpulence Cortes was 
obliged to repress. After saluting and wafting incense 
before the commander of the strange company, Chico- 
macatl embraced Cortes and led him to his quarters 

28 ' Cempoal, que yo intitule Sevilla. ' Cortes, Cartas, 52. See Native Races, 
ii. 553-90 ; iv. 425-63, on Nahua architecture. 

29 Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 294. Brasseur de Bourbourg, by a miscon- 
struction of his authorities, calls him Tlacochcalcatl. Codex ChimalpOf>oca, in 
Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 93. See Sahagun, Hist. Con<(., I'o. 

30 ' Una gordura monstruosa . . . , Fue necesario que Cortes detuviesse la risa 
de los soldados.' Solis, Hist. Mex., i. 175. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 10 


in the spacious halls adjoining the temple, after which 
he retired for a time. There the men rested and re- 
freshed themselves, guards being carefully posted, for 
Cortes would not trust his fate to strangers, and 
strict orders were given that no one should leave the 
building. 31 

It was not lonof before Chicomacatl returned in a 
litter with a richly attired suite, bringing presents of 
fine robes, and jewels worth about two thousand 
ducats. Durinof the conversation that ensued, Cortes 
as usual extolled the greatness and power of his king, 
and spoke warmly of his mission to replace their 
bloody religion with a knowledge of the true God. 
Were there wrongs to redress, that is to say, when 
opportunity offered for the perpetration of a greater 
wrong by himself, no knight of La Mancha or Amadis 
of Gaul could be more valiant than he. In return 
the chief of Cempoala unbosomed himself, for the 
manner of Cortes was winning, and his speech in- 
spired confidence whenever he chose to make it so. 
Then his fame, already wide-spread over the land, and 
the dim uncertainty as to his nature, whether more 
celestial or terrestrial, added weight to his words. So 
Chicomacatl poured forth from an overflowing heart 
a torrent of complaints against the tyranny of Monte- 
zuma. He drew for the Spaniards a historic outline 
of the Aztecs — how a people the youngest in the land 
had, at first by cunning and treachery, and finally by 
forced allies and preponderance of arms, built their 
power upon the ruin of older states. The Totonacs, 
whose records as an independent nation in this region 
extended over seven centuries, had succumbed only 
some twenty-five years before this. 32 And now Mon- 
tezuma's collectors overran the provinces, gathering 
heavy tributes, seizing the beautiful maidens, and 

31 ' Se hizo el alojamento en el patio del Templo mayor.' Herrera, dec. ii. 
lib. v. cap. viii. 

32 For the reigns of their kings, see Torquemada, i. 278-80. Robertson. 
Hist. Am., ii. 31, wrongly assumes the Totonacs to be a fierce people, different 
from Cempoalans. 


conveying the men into slavery or to the sacrificial 
stone. Neither life, liberty, nor property could be 
enjoyed with any degree of safety. 

Whereat Cortes of course was indignant. It w T as 
his special business to do all the tyrannizing in that 
region himself; his sword would give ample pro- 
tection to his new allies, and bring abundant honor 
to his king and himself. Let but the people prove 
loyal to him, he concluded, and he surely would de- 
liver them from the hated yoke; yet he did not 
mention the more fatal bondage into which he would 
place them. Chicomacatl eagerly assured Cortes of 
support from the Totonacs, numbering fifty thousand 
warriors, with numerous towns and fortresses. 33 Fur- 
thermore, there were many other states ready to join 
an insurrection which should prove strong enough to 
brave the terrible Montezuma. 

Their visit over, 34 the Spaniards continued their 
march northward to join the fleet. Four hundred 
tlamamas, or carriers, attended, in courtesy to hon- 
ored guests, to relieve the soldiers of their burdens. 
The following day they reached Quiahuiztlan, a for- 
tified town about a league from the sea. This town 
was picturesquely placed on a rocky promontory 
bordering one of the many wild ravines thereabout, 
and of difficult access, commanding the plain and 
harbor at its base. 35 The army advanced cautiously, 

1 'Toda aquella provincia de Cempoal y toda la sierra comarcana a la 
dicha villa, que seran hasta cinquenta mil hombres de guerra y cincuenta 
villas y fortalezas. ' Cortes, Cartas, 53. ' Cien mil hobres entre toda la liga. ' 
Gomara, Hist. Mex., 57. ' En aquellas tierras de la lengua de Totonaque, que 
eran mas de trienta pueblos.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 31. The province 
appears to have extended from Rio de la Antigua to Huaxtecapan, in the 
north of Vera Cruz, and from the sea to Zacatlan, in Puebla. Patifio assumes 
Mixquhuacan to have been the capital, but this must be a mistake. 

3t Gomara relates that the army remained at Cempoala fifteen days, during 
which frequent visits were made by the lord, Cortes paying the first return 
visit on the third day, attended by fifty soldiers. He describes briefly the 
palace, and how Cortes, seated by the side of the lord, on icpalli stools, now 
won his confidence and adhesion. Hist. Mex., 51-3; Tapia, Ret., in Jcazbai- 
oda, Col. Doc., ii. 561; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. x. Bernal Diaz declares 
Gomara wrong, and insists that they proceeded on their way the following 
day. I /ist. Verdad., 31; Clavigcro, Storia Mess., iii. 20-7. 

°For illustrated description of barranca ruins, see Native Races, iv.439etseq. 


in battle array, 36 but the place was deserted. On 
reaching the plaza, however, some fifteen chiefs came 
forward with swinging censers, and apologized, saying 
that the people had fled, not knowing what the strange 
arrival portended, but reassured by the Cempoalans, 
they were already returning to serve them. The 
soldiers then took possession of a large building, where 
food was brought them. Presently the chief ap- 
peared; and close at his heels in hot haste came the 
lord of Cempoala, who announced that the Aztec col- 
lectors had entered his city. 37 While conferring with 
Cortes and the chiefs assembled, Chicomacatl was 
informed that the collectors, five 38 in number, had 
followed him to Quiahuiztlan, and were even then at 
the door. All the chiefs present turned pale, and 
hastened out to humble themselves before the officers, 
who responded with disdainful condescension. The 
officers were clad in embroidered robes, with a pro- 
fusion of jewelry, and wore the hair gathered upon the 
crown. In the right hand they carried their insignia 
of office, a hooked carved stick, and in the left a bunch 
of roses, the ever welcome offering of the obsequious 
Totonac nobles who swelled their train. A suite of 
servitors followed, some with fans and dusters, for 
the comfort of their masters. Passing the Spanish 
quarter without deigning to salute the strangers, 
the emissaries of the mighty Montezuma entered an- 
other large building, and after refreshing themselves 
summoned the tributary chiefs, reprimanded them 
for having received the Spaniards without permission 
from Montezuma, and demanded twenty young persons 
for an atoning sacrifice. Well might the demoniacal 

36 Avila, who had command, was so strict as to lance Hernando Alonso de 
Villanueva for not keeping in line. Lamed in the arm, he received the 
nickname of el Manquillo. B<nial Diaz, Hint. Verdad., 31. The riders were 
obliged to retain their seats, lest the Indians should suppose that the horses 
could be deterred by any obstacles. Gomara, Hint. Mex., 53. 

3| Vetancvrt, Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 117. Others suppose that he came merely 
to persuade the cacique to join CortCs. Clarigero, Storia Mess., iii. 27. 

38 Four men. Ixtlilxochiil, Hist. Chick., 289. ' Twenty men,' says Gomara, 
Hist. Mex., 54, who does not refer to the arrival of Cempoala's lord. 


order cause to tremble every youth throughout the 
land; for whose turn should be next none could 
tell. Even the faces of the chiefs were blanched as 
they told Cortes, informing him also that it was 
already determined in Aztec circles to make slaves 
of the Spaniards, and after being used awhile for 
purposes of procreation, they were to be sacrificed. 39 
Cortes laughed, and ordered the Totonacs to seize 
the insolent officials. What! lay violent hands on 
Montezuma's messengers ? The very thought to them 
was appalling. Nevertheless they did it, for there 
was something in the tone of Cortes that made them 
obey, though they could not distinguish the meaning 
of his words. They laid hold on those tax-men of 
Montezuma, put collars on their necks, and tied their 
hands and feet to poles. 40 Their timidity thus broken, 
they became audacious, and demanded the sacrifice 
of the prisoners.* 1 "By no means," Corte's said, and 
he himself assumed their custody. 

Howsoever the cards fall to him, a skilful gamester 
plays each severally, nothing cavilling, at its worth. 
So Cortes now played these messengers, the method 
assuming form in his mind immediately he saw them. 
With him this whole Mexican business was one great 
game, a life game, though it should last but a day; 
and as the agencies and influences of it fell into his 
fingers, with the subtlety of the serpent he dealt 
them out, placing one here and another there, playing 
with equal readiness enemy against enemy, and mul- 
tiplying friends by friends. 

These so lately pride-puffed tribute-men, now low 
laid in the depths of despondency — how shall they be 
played? Well, let them be like him who fell amongst 
thieves, while the Spanish commander acts the good 

' ' Montezuma tenia pensamiento, . . . . de nos auer todos a las manos, para 
que hiziessemos generacion, y tambien para tener que sacrificar.' Berual Diaz, 
Mist. Verdad., 28. 

40 'Carcerati nelle loro gabbie,' is the way Clavigero puts it. Storia 31 ess., 
lii. 28. One was even whipped for resisting. 

41 ' Porque no se les fuesse alguno dellos a dar mandado a Mexico,' is Ber- 
nal Diaz' reason for it. Hist. Vtrdad., 32. 


Samaritan. In pursuance of which plan, when all 
had retired for the night, he went stealthily to them, 
asked who they were, and why they were in that sad 
plight, pretending ignorance. And when they told 
him, this rare redresser was angry, hot with indie- 
nation that the noble representatives of so noble a 
monarch should be so treated. Whereupon he in- 
stantly released two of them, comforting the others 
with the assurance that their deliverance should 
quickly follow; for the emperor Montezuma he es- 
teemed above all emperors, and he desired to serve 
him, as commanded by his king. Then he sent the 
twain down the coast in a boat, beyond the Totonac 

Next morning, when told that two of the Aztec 
captives had broken their bonds and escaped, the 
Totonacs were more urgent than ever for the im- 
molation of the others. But Cortes again said no, 
and arranged that they should be sent in chains on 
board one of his vessels, determined afterward to 
release them, for they were worth far more to his 
purpose alive than dead. 

It is refreshing at this juncture to hear pious 
people censure Cortes for his duplicity, and to hear 
other pious people defend him on the ground of ne- 
cessity, or otherwise. Such men might with equal 
reason wrangle over the method by which it was 
right and honorable for the tiger to spring and seize 
the hind. The one great wrong is lost sight of in the 
discussion of numerous lesser wrongs. The murderer 
of an empire should not be too severely criticised for 
crushing a gnat while on the way about the business. 42 

At the suggestion of Cortes, messengers were sent 
to all the towns of the province, with orders to stop 

42 ' Condotta artifiziosa, e cloppia,' etc., says Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii 
2S, while Solis lauds it as 'Grande artifice de medir lo que disponia, con lo que 
rezelaba: y prudente Capitan.' Hist. Mex., i. 18G. 


the payment of tribute and to seize the collectors, 
but to spare their lives. Information was likewise to 
be given to the neighboring nations, that all might 
prepare to resist the force which Montezuma would 
probably send against them. The Totonacs became 
wild with joy, and declared that the little band who 
dare so brave Montezuma must be more than men. 43 
To Quiahuitzlan flocked chiefs and nobles from all 
parts, eager to behold these beings, and to ascertain 
their own future course of action. There were those 
among them still timid, who urged an embassy to 
the king of kings, to beseech pardon before his army 
should bo upon them, slaying, enslaving, and laying 
waste; but Cortes had already influence, was already 
strong enough to allay their fears, and bring them 
all into allegiance to the Spanish sovereign, exacting 
their oath before the notary Godoy to support him 
with all their forces. Thus, by virtue of -this mans 
mind, many battles were fought and won without the 
striking of a blow. Already every Spaniard there 
was a sovereign, and the meanest soldier among them 
a ruler of men. 

43 ' Desde alii adelante nos llamaron Teules, ' says Bernal Diaz, with great 
satisfaction. Hist Vcrdad., 32. 'A los Espailoles llamaron teteuh, quo quiere 
decir dioses, y los Espailoles corrompiendo el vocablo decian teules, el cual 
nombre les dur6 mas de ties anos,' till we stopped it, declaring that there 
was but one God. Motolinia, Hist. Ltd., i. 142-3. See note 1G. 



June-July, 1519. 

Cortes, Diplomate and General — The Municipality of Villa Rica 
Located — Excitement throughout Anahuac — Montezuma Demor- 
alized — Arrival of the Released Collectors at the Mexican 
Capital — The Order for Troops Countermanded — Montezuma 
Sends an Embassy to Cortes — Chicomacatl Asks Aid against a 
Mexican Garrison — A Piece of Pleasantry — The Velazquez Men 
Refuse to Accompany the Expedition — Opportunity Offered them 
to Return to Cuba, which they Decline through Shame — The 
Totonacs Rebuked — The Cempoala Brides — Destruction of the 
Idols — Arrival at Villa Rica of Salcedo — Efforts of Velazquez 
with the Emperor — Cortes Sends Messengers to Spain — Velaz- 
quez Orders them Pursued — The Letters of Cortes — Audience 
of the Emperor at Tordesillas. 

Palamedes invented the game of chess while watch- 
ing before the gates of Troy; a tame business, truly, 
beside the achievements of the heaven-born Achilles, 
the hero of the war. Yet chess remains, while Achilles 
and his heaven have melted with the mists. Who 
shall say, then, which was the greater, Cortes the 
soldier, or Cortes the diplomate? But these were 
barbarians, one says, with whom the shrewd Span- 
iards had to deal; they had neither- horses, nor iron, 
nor gunpowder, to aid them in their wars. Further- 
more, they regarded the strangers fully as demi-gods, 
probably as some of their own wandering deities re- 
turned. True; but he makes a great mistake who 
rates the Mexicans so far beneath Europeans in natu- 
ral ability and cunning. Montezuma lacked some of 
the murderous enginery that Cortes had, and his 



Inner life was of different dye; that was about all. If 
any would place Cortes, his genius, and his exploits, 
below those of the world's greatest generals, because 
he warred on enemies weaker than their enemies, we 
have only to consider the means at his command, how 
much less was his force than theirs. What could the 
Scipios or the Csesars have done with half a thousand 
men; or Washington, or Wellington, with five hundred 
against five hundred thousand? Napoleon's tactics were 
always to have at hand more forces than the enemy. 
In this the Corsican displayed his astuteness. But a 
keener astuteness was required by Cortes to conquer 
thousands with hundreds and with tens. Perhaps 
Moltke, who, with a stronger force, could wage suc- 
cessful war on France, perhaps he, and a handful of 
his veterans, could land on the deadly shores of the 
Mexican Gulf, and with Montezuma there, and all the 
interior as dark to them as Erebus, by strategy and 
force of arms possess themselves of the country. I 
doubt it exceedingly. I doubt if one in ten of the 
greatest generals who ever lived would have achieved 
what the base bastard Pizarro did in Peru. The very 
qualities which made them great would have deterred 
them from anything which, viewed in the light of ex- 
perience and reason, was so wildly chimerical. Then 
give these birds of prey their petting, I say; they 
deserve it. And be fame or infamy immortal ever 
theirs! Lastly, if any still suspect the genius of 
Cortes unable to cope with others than Indians, let 
them observe how he handles his brother Spaniards. 

It was about time the municipality should find 
anchorage; too much travelling by a town of such 
immaculate conception, of so much more than ordinary 
signification, were not seemly. Velazquez would de- 
ride it; the emperor Charles would wonder at it: 
therefore half a league below Quiahuiztlan, in the 
dimpled plain which stretches from its base to the 
harbor of Bernal at present protecting the ships, 


where bright waters commingling with soft round 
hills and rugged promontories were lifted into ethereal 
heights by the misted sunshine, the whole scene falling 
on the senses like a vision, and not like tame reality, 
there they chose a site for the Villa Rica, 1 and drew 
a plan of the town, distributed lots, laid the founda- 
tions for forts and batteries, granary, church, town- 
hall, and other buildings, which were constructed 
chiefly of adobe, the whole being inclosed by a strong 
stockade. To encourage alike men and officers to 
push the work, Cortes himself set the example in 
preparing for the structures, and in carrying earth 
and stones. The natives also lent their aid, and in a 
few weeks the town stood ready, furnishing a good 
shipping depot, a fortress for the control of the in- 
terior, a starting-point for operations, an asylum for 
the sick and wounded, and a refuge for the army in 
case of need. 

Great was the excitement in Andhuac and the 
regions round about over the revolt of the Totonacs 
and the attitude assumed by the Spaniards ; and 

1 Villa Rica is the name appearing in the first royal charter of 1523, but 
with later foundations Vera Cruz became the title. Panes, Extension Vera- 
cruz, MS., 1 et seq. The municipal council, however, distinctly calls it la 
Rica Villa tie la Veracruz and ought to be the proper authority for the form 
of name first applied. Carta del Ayunt., in Cortes, Cartas, 1 et seq. 'Yluego 
ordenamos de hazer, y fundar, 6 poblar vna Villa, que se nombro la Villa Rica 
de la Vera-Cruz ; porque llegamos Jueves de la Cena, y desembarcamos en 
Uiernes Santo de la Cruz, 6 rica por aquel Cauallero que. . . .dixo que mirasse 
las tierras ricas. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist, \ 'erdad. , 29. ' Llamola Villa Rica a la 
nueua poblacio, y de la Veracruz, por auer desembarcado el Viernes Sato, y 
Rica, por la riqueza que se auia descubierto.' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. 
vii. Although nominally founded adjacent to San Juan de Ulua, there was no 
intention to build the town on that unhealthy and dreary spot. The first 
actual foundation took place at the harbor of Bernal. Nearly live years later 
the town rose anew on the present Rio de la Antigua, where it became known 
alone as Vera Cruz. In 1599 the actual or new Vera Cruz found itself finally 
planted on the very site of the first nominal foundation. The chief reason for 
this change was probably the need for the better protection against filibusters 
afforded by the island of San Juan de Ulua, whose batteries commanded the 
harbor. See Albornoz, Carta al Emperador, Dec, 1525, in JcazbalcHa, Col. 
Do: , i. 495. The charter for la Nueva Ciudad de la Vera-Cruz was granted 
July 19, 1615. Calle, Mem. y Not., 68; Clavif/ero, Sto?*iaMcss., iii. 30; Rivera, 
flit. Jalapa, i. 27; Humboldt, Essai Pol., i. 276-7. Alegre, Hist. Comp. de 
Jesus, i. 149-50, has some excellent remarks hereon. Few authors, however, 
arc free from blunders with regard to the different sites, even Lorenzana com- 
mitting more than one. Cortes, Hist. N. Espaua, 381. 


while hope swelled the breast of subjected peoples, 
the Aztec nobles, seeing revolution in the signs of 
the times, began to look to the safety of their fami- 
lies and estates. 2 To Montezuma the seizure of his 
collectors was an outrage on the sacred ness of his 
majesty, and a slur on his power, which the council 
declared must be punished in the most prompt and 
effective manner, lest other provinces should follow 
the example. And yet the monarch had no stomach 
for the business. s Ofttimes since these accursed 
strangers touched his shores would he willingly have 
resigned that which he above all feared to lose, his 
sceptre and his life; then again, as appetite returned 
and existence was loaded with affluent pleasure, he 
sighed to taste the sweets of power a little longer. 
He was becoming sadly pusillanimous, an object of 
contempt before his gods, his nobles, and himself. It 
seemed to him as if the heavens had fallen on him 
and held him inexorably to earth. There was no 
escape. There were none to pity. He was alone. 
His very gods were recreant, cowering before the 
approach of other gods. Repressing his misgivings 
as best he might, he issued orders for an immediate 
descent of the army on the offenders. Let the mettle 
of these beings be proven, and let them live or die 
with their Totonac allies. To this end let levies be 
made of men and money on a long-suffering people, 
whose murmurs shall be drowned in the groans of 
fresh victims on the sacrificial altar of the war p*od. 3 
See now how powerfully had wagged that little 
forked tomme of Cortes! See how those gentle 
whisperings that night at Quiahuiztlan, those soft 

2 ' Los Hombres mas Poderosos entendian en buscar Lugares en los Montes, 
y partes mas remotas, para conservar sus Mugeres, Hijos, y Hacienda.' Tor- 
quern ada, i. 403. 

3 Inconsolable at the prospect of the strangers acquiring a footing in the 
country, Montezuma, after vainly searching for admission into the Hadca of 
Cicalco, retired to the abode occupied by him ere he became emperor. Saha- 
(jun, J list. Conq., i. 15-16. One reason for this is said to have been the result 
of the embassy to the oracle at Achiuhtla, in Miztccapan, which brought back 
the announcement that the Aztec empire must yield to strangers. Burgoa, 
Georj. Descrlp. Oajaca, pt. ii. 129. 


dissemblings breathed into the ears of two poor cap- 
tives — see how they shot forth like winged swords tc 
stop an army on the point of marching to its slaugh- 
ters! Here, as in scores of other instances, Cortes' 
shrewdness saved him from disaster. 

For in the midst of the warlike preparations arrived 
the two released collectors, and their presentation of 
the magnanimity of the white chief, of his friendly 
conduct and warm assurances, materially changed 
the aspect of affairs. There was no alliance; there 
was no rebellion; the Totonacs dared not rebel with- 
out foreign support; with them Montezuma would 
settle presently. And with no little alacrity did he 
countermand the order for troops, and send an em- 
bassy to Cortes. Thus through the vacillating policy 
which now possessed the Mexican monarch was lost 
the opportunity to strike the enemy perhaps a fatal 
blow; and thus by that far off impalpable breath 
was fought and won another battle, this time van- 
quishing the king of kings himself, with his hundred 
thousand men. 

The embassy sent comprised Wo of Montezuma's 
nephews,* accompanied by four old and honorable 
caciques. They were to express the monarch's thanks 
to the Spaniards, and to remonstrate against the re- 
volt encouraged by their presence. He had become 
assured that they were of the race predicted by his 
forefathers, and consequently of his own lineage; out 
of regard for them, as guests of the revolted people, 
he would withhold present chastisement. A gift of 
robes and feather-work, and gold worth two thousand 
castellanos, accompanied the message. 5 

We cannot blame Cortes if his heart danced to its 
own music as he assured the envoys that he and all 
his people continued devoted to their master ; in proof 
of which he straightway produced the other three 

4 ' Fi^moli porsedcl suofratclloCuitlahuatzin.' Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 30. 
■*' 'Cierta3 piecas <le oro y plata bien labradas, y vn casquete de oro menu- 
do .. i cso todo csto doo mil, y noueiita Castellanos. ' Gomara, Hist. Jlex. , 5S. 


collectors, safe, sound, and arrayed in their new attire. 
Nevertheless, he could but express displeasure at the 
abrupt departure of the Mexicans from the former 
camp. This act had forced him to seek hospitality 
at the hand of the Totonacs, and for their kind 
reception of him they deserved to be forgiven. Fur- 
ther than this, they had rendered the Spaniards 
great benefits, and should not be expected to serve 
two masters, or to pay double tribute; for the rest, 
Cortes himself would soon come to Mexico and 
arrange everything. The envoys replied that their 
sovereign was too engrossed in serious affairs to be 
able as yet to appoint an interview. " Adieu," they 
concluded, "and beware of the Totonacs, for they are 
a treacherous race." Not to create needless alarm, 
nor leave on the minds of the envoys at their depart- 
ure unpleasant impressions concerning his projects, 
Cortes entertained them hospitably, astonished them 
with cavalry and other exhibitions, and gratified them 
with presents. The effect of this visit was to raise 
still higher the Spaniards in the estimation not only 
of the Aztecs, but of the Totonacs, who with amaze- 
ment saw come from the dread Montezuma, instead 
of a scourging army, this high embassy of peace. "It 
must be so," they said among themselves, "that the 
Mexican monarch stands in awe of the strangers." 

Not lonof after, Chicomacatl came to Cortes ask- 
ing aid against a Mexican garrison, said to be com- 
mitting ravages at Tizapantzinco, 7 some eiGfht leagues 
from Cempoala. Cortes was in a merry mood at the 
moment; he could see the important progress he 
was making toward the consummation of his desires, 
though the men of Velazquez could not — at least 
they would admit of nothing honorable or beneficial 
to Cortes, and they continued to make much trouble. 

6 Before the embassy came, says Herrera, 'Di6 orden con voluntad del 
seriorde Chianhuitzlan, que lostres Mexicanos pressos fuessen sueltos,' dec. ii. 
lib. v. cap. xi. 

7 Iztlilchotitl, Hist. Chich.> 290. Other authorities differ in the spelling. 


Here was an opportunity to test the credulity ef 
these heathen, how far they might be brought to 
believe in the supernatural power of the Spaniards. 
Among the musketeers was an old Biscayan from the 
Italian wars, Heredia by name, the ugliest man in 
the army, uglier than Thersites, who could not find 
his fellow among all the Greeks that came to Troy. 
Lame in one foot, blind in one eye, bow-legged, with 
a slashed face, bushy-bearded as a lion, this musketeer 
had also the heart of a lion, and would inarch straight 
into the mouth of Popocatepetl, without a question, 
at the order of his general. Calling the man to him, 
Cortes said : " The Greeks worshipped beauty, as thou 
knowest, good Heredia, but these Americans seem to 
deify deformity, which in thee reaches its uttermost. 
Thou art hideous enough at once to awe and enravish 
the Aztecs, whose Pantheon cannot produce thine 
equal. Go to them, Heredia; bend fiercely on them 
thine only eye, walk bravely before them, flash thy 
sword, and thunder a little with thy gun, and thou 
shalt at once command a hundred sacrifices." Then 
to the Totonac chief: "This brother of mine is all 
sufficient to aid thee in thy purpose. Go, and behold 
the Culhuas will vanish at thy presence." And they 
went; an obedience significant of the estimation in 
which Cortes was then held, both by his own men and 
by the natives. 

They had not proceeded far when Cortes sent 
and recalled them, saying that he desired to examine 
the country, and would accompany them. Tlamamas 
would be required to carry the guns, and baggage, and 
they would set out the next day. At the last moment 
seven of the Velazquez faction refused to go, on the 
ground of ill health. Then others of their number 
spoke, condemning the rashness of the present pro- 
ceeding, and desiring to return to Cuba. Cortes told 
them they could go, and after chiding them for neglect 
of duty he ordered prepared a vessel, which should 
be placed at their service. As they were about to 


embark, a deputation appeared to protest against 
permitting any to depart, as a proceeding prejudicial 
to the service of God, and of the king. "Men who 
at such a moment, and under such circumstances, 
desert their flag deserve death." These were the 
words of Cortes put into the mouth of the speaker. 
Of course the order concerning the vessel was re- 
called, and the men of Velazquez were losers by the 
affair. 8 

The expedition, ~ composed of four hundred sol- 
diers, with fourteen horses, and the necessary carriers, 
then set off for Cempoala, where they were joined by 
four companies of two thousand warriors. Two days' 
march brought them close to Tizapantzinco, and the 
following morning they entered the plain at the foot 
of the fortress, which was strongly situated on a high 
rock bordered by a stream. Here stood the people 
prepared to receive them; but scarcely had the cav- 
alry come in sight when they turned to seek refuge 
within the fort. The horsemen cut off their retreat 
in that direction, however, and leaving them, began 
the ascent. Eight chiefs and priests thereupon came 
forth wailing, and informed the Spaniards that the 
Mexican garrison had left at the first uprising of the 
Totonacs, and that the Cempoalans were taking ad- 
vantage of this and of the Spanish alliance to enforce 
the settlement of a long-standing boundary dispute. 
They begged that the army would not advance. 
Cortes at once gave orders to restrain the Cempoalans, 
who were already plundering. Their captains were 
severely reprimanded for want of candor as to the 
real object of the expedition, and were ordered to 
restore the effects and captives taken. This strictness 
was by no means confined to them, for a soldier named 
Mora, caught by the general in the act of stealing 

8 One of them who had bartered a fine light -colored horse for some 
property in Cuba was unable to annul the trade, and thus lost his animal. 
BemcU Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 34. Gomara, Hist. Alex., 64, refers merely to 
murmurs in favor of Velazquez, which Cortes quiets by placing a few m 
chaius for a time. 


two fowls, was ordered hanged. Alvarado, however, 
cut him down in time to save his life, probably at the 
secret intimation of Cortes, who, while securing the 
benefit of example, would not unnecessarily sacrifice a 
soldier. 9 

Charmed by this display of justice on the part of 
the Spaniards, and impressed as well by their ever 
increasing prestige, the chiefs of the district came in 
and tendered allegiance. A lasting friendship was 
established between them and the Cempoalans ; 10 after 
which the army returned to Cempoala by a new route, 11 
and was received with demonstrations of joy by the 
populace. With a view of binding more closely such 
powerful allies, Chicomacatl proposed intermarriages. 
And as a beginning he presented eight young women, 12 
richly dressed, with necklaces and ear-rings of gold, 
and each attended by servants. "Take them," said 

9 ' Murib este soldado en vna guerra en la Prouincia de Guatimala sobre 
vn Pefiol.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 35. He places the incident on the 
return march. 

10 According to Gomara the Aztec garrison does ravage the country when 
the Totonac revolt occurs, and their forces meet the Spaniards on the field, 
only to flee at the sight of the horsemen. Cortes and four others dismount, 
and mingling with the fleeing, reach the fort gates, which they hold till their 
troops come up. Surrendering the place to the allies, Cortes tells them to 
respect the people and to let the garrison depart without arms or banner. 
This victory gained great influence for the Spaniards, and remembering the 
feat of CortCs, the Indians declared that one Spaniard was enough to aid them 
in achieving victory. Hist. Mex., 59. Ixtlilxochitl, who follows Gomara, 
fights the Aztec garrison as far as the city, and then captures it. Hist. Chick., 
290. Solis assumes that a few Spaniards cut off the retreat of the townsmen 
and rushing forward with some Cempoalans, are already inside when the 
leaders come to plead for mercy. Hist. Mex., i. 197-8. The foremost credit 
is however due to Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 34-5, who, being present, 
declares Gomara's account wholly wrong, that no garrison existed here, and 
that no resistance was made. The latter sentence is modified by Tapia, also 
a member of the expedition, who states that the town did resist and was 
punished. Relacion, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc., ii. ,566. Hence it may be 
assumed that Diaz, as a foot soldier, was not present to see the probably 
bloodless rout of the Indians by the cavalry. The townsmen are not likely to 
have allowed the Cempoalans to approach without offering resistance, or, in 
case they knew of the Spanish advance, without sending a deputation before 
the pillage began. 

1 ' Passing through two towns, the soldiers suffering greatly from heat 
and fatigue. Near Cempoala the lord awaited them in some temporary huts 
with bountiful cheer, though apprehensive of CorteV anger at his deception. 
The following day they entered the city. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 35; 
Hcrrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. xiii. 

12 ' Veinte Doncellas (aunque Gomara dice, que fueron ocho),' says Torque- 
mada, i. 399, without giving his reasons. 


he to Cortes. " They are all daughters of caciques. 
Seven are for your captains, and this, my niece, is for 
yourself, for she is the ruler of towns." 

Matters were becoming interesting. Cortes and 
some of his captains had wives in Cuba, and nearly 
all of them had mistresses here. The damsels of 
Cempoala were not famed for their beauty; the one 
offered Cortes was particularly ill-favored. With re- 
gard to captives and slaves, of course no marriage 
vow was necessary, but with princesses the case was 
different. But even here there was little difficulty. 
The aboriginal form of marriage, while it satisfied the 
natives, rested lightly on the Spaniards. Indeed, 
with them it was no marriage at all; and so it has 
been throughout the New World; in their marital 
relations with foreigners the natives have felt them- 
selves bound, while the Europeans have not. To the 
ceremony in this instance no objection was offered. 

At this happy consummation, though the rite is 
not yet performed, serious meditation takes posses- 
sion of the mind of Cortes, who bethinks himself that 
he is doing little of late for his God, who is doing 
so much for him. Success everywhere attends his 
strategies. And these female slaves and princesses! 
While trying to quiet his conscience for accepting 
this princess, he was exceedingly careful in regard to 
taking unto himself real wives, as we have seen in 
Cuba. But here marriage after the New World 
fashion would surely advance his purposes. And so 
they are compelled to submit to the stronger, who by 
the right of might proceeds to rob them of their gold 
and to desolate their homes; and now assumes the 
higher prerogative of requiring them to relinquish 
the faith of their fathers and embrace the religion of 
their enemies. It would please God to have these 
Cempoala people worship him ; Cortes can make them 
do so. True, they love their gods as much as Cortes 
loves his. Their gods likewise help them to good 
things, among others to the Spaniards themselves, 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 11 


who in return now determine their overthrow. And 
shall they consent! Alas, they are weak, and their 
gods are weak! 

Heathenism, with its idolatry, and bloody sacri- 
fices, and cannibalism, is horrible, I grant you. "For 
daily they sacrificed three or five Indians," says Bernal 
Diaz, "offering the heart to idols, smearing the blood 
upon the walls, and cutting off the limbs to be eaten. 
I even believe they sold the flesh in the market." 13 
But equally horrible, and far more unfair, are the 
doings of the superior race, which with the advance 
of the centuries, and the increase of knowledge and 
refinement, are often guilty of deeds as bloodthirsty 
and cruel as these. With the most powerful of micro- 
scopic aids to vision, I can see no difference between 
the innate goodness and badness of men now and two 
or five thousand years ago; the difference lies merely 
in a change of morality fashions, and in the apparent 
refining and draping of what conventionally we choose 
to call wickedness. What is the serving of dainty 
dishes to the gods in the form of human sacrifices, 
of carving before them a few thousand fattened cap- 
tives, to the extirpation of a continent of helpless 
human beings ; and that by such extremes of treachery 
and cruelty as the cannibals never dreamed of, entrap- 
ping by fair w^ords only to cut, and mangle, and kill 
by steel, saltpetre, and blood-hounds; stealing at the 
same time their lands and goods, and adding still more 
to their infamy by doing all this in the name of Christ; 
when in reality they violate every principle of religion 
and disregard every injunction of the church; just as 
men to-day lie and cheat and praise and pray, and out 
of their swindlings hope to buy favor of the Almighty ! 

And now these poor people must give up their 
poor gods, for their masters so decree. The chiefs and 

13 ' Tambien auian de ser limpios de sodomias, porque tenian muchachos 
vestidos en habito de mugeres, que andauan a ganar en aquel maldito oficio.' 
This they promised. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 35. Solis assumes that 
Cortes was aroused to this crusade by the heavy sacrifices at a great festival. 
Mist. Mex., i. 204-5. 


native priests protest. The Spaniards are benefactors 
and friends, but the gods are superior to men. To 
them they owe health, prosperity, existence ; and sac- 
rifices are but the necessary slight returns for so great 
blessings. The sacrificed are by no means injured, 
say the Aztecs, but are sent to heaven and enfolded 
at once in the bosom of their god. Verily there are 
curious articles of faith among the heathen wor- 
shipers as well as among our own, but if we look for 
all the good in ours we shall be mistaken. In vain 
the men of Cempoala beg to retain the religion of 
their forefathers and the sacred emblems of their 
faith. Carried away by the fierce zeal which more 
than once in these annals overcomes his prudence 
and brings him to the brink of ruin, Cortes cries: 
"Christians and soldiers, shall these things be — 
these idolatries and sacrifices, and other impious 
doings? No! First down with the images, then to 
arguments, and the granting of entreaties. Our 
lives on work rewarded with eternal glory!" Shouts 
of earnest approval was the response, and on they 
marched toward the temple. Priests and people 
rushed to the defence of their deities. With a 
scornful gesture the ruler was waived aside, as he 
interposed with the warning that to lay hands on the 
idols was to bring destruction alike on all. " You are 
not my friends," exclaimed Cortes, " if you do not as 
I wish! Choose ye; and I will leave you your gods 
to save you from the threatened vengeance of Mon- 
tezuma." This was by far too practical an application 
of their piety. The fact is, their gods had not done 
exactly right by them in the matter of the Aztec 
imposition. These white strangers, after all, seemed 
to be better gods than their idols. "Well, work your 
will," at length said Chicomacatl, "but do not ask our 
aid in such detestable doings." So the thing was ac- 
complished, as before this had been determined. In 
a moment fifty soldiers were on the temple summit, 
and down came the worshipful wooden things, shat- 


tered and clattering along the steps, while with 
bleeding hearts their makers stood by, their faces 
covered to exclude the sacrilegious sight. Ah, how 
they wailed, how they lamented, calling on the mis- 
shapen blocks to pity their inability to stop the deed! 14 
Not such dastards were these people, however, that 
not one among them would strike a blow for their 
faith. For presently the court-yard was filled with 
armed men, headed by infuriated priests in long 
hooded robes of dark material, with slashed ears and 
faces clotted with blood, determined, if not to pre- 
vent, at least to avenge the outrage. What was 
sworn allegiance, or even life, beside the momentous 
question of religion ? Seeing the danger, Cortes with 
characteristic promptness seized the lord, together 
with several leading men, and declared if a single 
Spaniard was so much as scratched they should im- 
mediately die. Chicomacatl accordingly spoke to the 
people and made them retire. Nor was wholly lost 
on them the mute argument of the shattered idols 
lying powerless at their feet. Hence when the im- 
ages were burned, the natives looked on with com- 
parative calmness. " Surely these beings are superior 
to our gods, whom they have thus vanquished," they 
said one to another. Sweetly and serenely Cortes now 
smiled on them, called them brethren, and preached 
the European doctrines. The pagan temple was 
cleansed, the blood-smeared walls were whitewashed, 
and in their place was erected a Christian altar, dec- 
orated with flowers and surmounted with a cross. 
Here, before the assembled natives, Olmedo preached 
the Christian faith, and celebrated mass. The con- 
trast between the simple beauty of this impressive 
ceremony and their own bloody worship made a deep 
impression on the minds of the natives, and at the 
conclusion those who desired were baptized. Among 

u Gomara makes the natives tear down the idols and the sepulchres of 
caciques worshipped as gods. ' Acabo con los de la ciudad que derribassen los 
idolos y sepulcros de los caciques, q tambien reuereciauan como a dioses.' 
Hist. Mex.. 67. 


them were the eight brides, the ill-favored ruler of 
towns who had been given to Cortes being called 
Catalina, probably in honor of his wife in Cuba, whose 
place she was to occupy for a time. Lucky Puerto- 
carrero's second pretty prize, the daughter of Cacique 
Cuesco, was named Francisca. 15 

Accompanied by the brides and a large escort the 
army now returned to Villa Rica. There they found 
just arrived from Cuba a vessel commanded by Fran- 
cisco do Salcedo, nicknamed 'the dandy,' who with 
Luis Marin, an able officer, and ten soldiers, all well 
provided with arms, and with two horses, had come 
in quest of fortune under Cortes. 16 Salcedo reported 
that Velazquez had received the appointment of ade- 
lantado over all lands discovered by him or at his 
cost, with one fifteenth of all royal revenues thence 
arising. 17 

Benito Martin, the chaplain, who had been sent to 
obtain the commission, was rewarded with the benefice 
of the new discovery at Ulua, which really comprised 
all Mexico, while the lately appointed bishop of Cuba, 
the Dominican Julian Garces, confessor to the bishop 
of Burgos, the patron of Velazquez, was promoted to 

15 Bemal Diaz, Hid. Verdad., 3G; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. ix. xiv. 
Gomara places the presentation of the women at the first visit of the Span- 
iards to the city, and herein he is followed by Herrera, Torquemada, and 
Ixtlilxochitl. Hist. Chich., 289. 

16 These proved the more valuable since Cortes' horse had died shortly 
before. He obtained, by gift or purchase, the fine Arriero, a dark chestnut 
belonging to Ortiz, the musician, and to Garcia, the miner. Denial Diaz, Hid. 
Verdad. , 33. Gomara assumes that Salcedo brought a caravel, with sixty Span- 
iards and nine horses, the vessel having been detained in Cuba for repairs. 
Hist. Mex., 59; yet he includes Salcedo as present at the final review there. 
/'/., 14. He is evidently confused. 

17 For himself and one heir. Further, after conquering and settling four 
islands, he might select one from which to receive perpetually for himself and 
heirs one twentieth part of all the revenue accruing therefrom for the king. 
No duty would be charged during his life on any clothing, arms, and pro- 
visions imported by him into those lands. As an aid toward the expenses of 
the conquest, a royal estate at Habana was granted him, and a salary in 
those lands of 300,000 maravedis. The other clauses of the commission re- 
lated to mines, clergy, taxes, and settlers. It was dated at Saragossa, Novem- 
ber 13, 1518, 'five days previous to the usurpation of the fleet by Cortes,' 
observes Las Casas, Hist. Ind., v. 3-5. Dated at Barcelona, says Herrera, 
dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xi. Several are led to suppose that Velazquez did not re- 
ceive the notice of his appointment for over a year after its date, which is 
unlikely. Mex.,i\. 222-3. 


the insignificant see of Cozumel. These preferments, 
based on an insufficient knowledge of the country, 
were corrected at a later time, when Garces was 
made bishop of Tlascala, while Martin received other 
compensation. 18 Before the issue of these grants 
it appears that Yucatan at least had a narrow escape 
from slipping entirely out of Spanish hands. At the 
first news of Cordoba's discoveries the admiral of 
Flanders was induced to ask for the land in grant, in 
order to settle it with Flemings, and also to petition 
for the governorship of Cuba as a means to promote 
the colony. This was supported by Xevres, the chief 
adviser in such matters, who knew little of the Indies 
and the vast tracts referred to, and so the promise 
was given. Las Casas was in Spain at the time, and 
being consulted by the admiral as to the means for 
colonizing, became indignant at the rash concession of 
Cuba, which he considered as belonging to Columbus. 
He remonstrated, and warned those interested to do 
the same. The result was the withdrawal of the 
grant, greatly to the disappointment of the admiral, 
for whose account several vessels had already reached 
San Lucar, laden with Flemish settlers. 19 

Cortes was fully aware that Velazquez, possessed 
of a commission, would not long delay in asserting his 
claim with all the power at his command upon the 
islands, and with all his influence at court ; this spurred 
on the captain-general to lose no time in bringing for- 
ward his own pretensions, and in seeking to obtain 
ro}^al approval of his acts. Therefore at this juncture 
he determined to gain authority for effectually sup- 
planting the Cuban governor in the field wherein 
he had already openly ignored him, and to despatch 

18 Which he failed to enjoy, since he died at sea while en route to New 
Spain to take possession. Las Casas, Hist, hid., iv. 465-6; Herrera, dec. ii. 
lib. iii. cap. xi. ; Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 16-17. 

1D Many of these died from hardship, and the rest returned impoverished 
to their country. Las Casas, Hist, hid,, iv. 374-6; Herrera, dec- ii. lib. ii. 
cap. xix.; Cogolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 8. 


messengers to the king. The men of Cortes needed 
no prompting to see how necessary to their interest 
it was to procure his confirmation as general to the 
exclusion of Velazquez, and to support Cortes by 
writing reports in corroboration of his own state- 
ments. Yet, in view of the flowing in of exaggerated 
accounts concerning new discoveries, little would 
avail descriptions of conquests and resources, how- 
ever glowing, and recommendations however warm, 
unless made real by specimens of the treasures which 
were the main attraction alike to king and subject. 
For gifts can move gods, says Hesiod. To the crown 
was due one fifth of the wealth so far obtained, but 
fearing that this would hardly produce the effect de- 
sired, Cortes proposed to surrender the one fifth due 
himself, and prevailed on his friends, and with their 
aid on all members of the expedition, to give up 
their share in the finer pieces of wrought gold and 
silver, and in all choice articles, so that a gift worthy 
of themselves and the country might be presented 
to the king. 20 

20 It has been generally assumed, from a loose acceptance of chroniclers' 
text, that all the treasures were surrendered for the object in view, but this 
could not have been the case. The pile of gold dust and nuggets, accumulated 
by constant barter along the coast, and increased by the contents of two 
helmets sent by Montezuma, formed a respectable amount, of which, only a 
small portion was sent to the king, as specimens of mining products. Three 
thousand castellanoo were set aside for the expenses of the messengers to Spain, 
and an equal sum for CorteV father, ' Otros 3000 que Cortes enviaba para su 
padre.' LasCasas, Hist, hid., iv. 408. 'A su padre Martin Cortes y a su madre 
oiertos Castellanos. ' Gomara, Hist. Max., 02. The disposal of the dust alone 
indicates an apportionment. Further, the list of treasure sent to Spain, as 
appended to the Carta del AyuntamieHto, and as given by Gomara, shows that 
much of the wrought metal received from Montezuma, not counting that 
acquired by barter, was retained by the expedition. Gomara writes that the 
first step of Cortes was to order a division of treasures by Avila and Mejia, 
acting respectively for the crown and the army. All the effects being displayed 
in the plaza, the gold and silver amounting to 27,000 ducats, the eabildo 
observed that what remained after deducting the royal fifth would belong to 
the general in payment for the vessels, arms, and supplies surrendered by him 
to the company. Cortes said there was time enough to pay him ; he would 
now take only his share as captain-general, and leave others wherewith to 
settle their small debts. He also proposed that instead of sending merely the 
one fifth to the king, the finest specimens should be given, which was agreed 
to. His list is given in Hist. Mex., GO-2. Ordaz and Montejo Avere sent round 
with a list to be signed by all who wished to surrender their share in the gold. 
'Y destamanera todos lo firmarona vna.' BemalDiaz, Hid. Vej'dad., oti. The 


The flag-ship was prepared for the voyage, and the 
navigation intrusted to Alaminos and another pilot 
called Bautista, with fifteen sailors and the necessary 
outfit. Four Indians, rescued from the sacrificial ca^e 
at Cempoala, where they had been kept to fatten, 
were also sent on board, together with native curiosi- 
ties, including specimens of picture-writing. The 
difficult task of out -manoeuvring Velazquez and se- 
curing the aims of their party was intrusted to the 
alcaldes Puertocarrero and Montejo, the former being 
selected chieflv because of his hiodi connections, which 
might serve him at court, the latter for his business 
talent. Three thousand castellanos were given them 
from the treasury for expenses, together with the 
necessar}^ power and instructions, and three letters 
in duplicate for the king. One of these was the first 
of the celebrated letters of Cortes on the conquest. 
He related at length all that had occurred since he 
left Santiago; the difficulties with Velazquez, the 
hardships of the voyage, and the progress of conquest 
for God and the kingf. He dwelt on the vast extent 
and wealth of the country, and expressed the hope of 
speedily subjecting it to the crown, and of seizing the 
person of the great Montezuma. And he trusted that 
in return for his services and loyal devotion he would 
be remembered in the cedulas to be issued for this 
new addition to the empire. 21 

Carta del Ayunt. refers to four of Velazquez' men as objecting to the presents 
being sent elsewhere than to their leader. Cortes, C<trtas, 20-7; Tapia, 7?e- 
lacion, in Icazbalceta, Cot. Doc, ii. 563; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. xiv.; 
Torquemada, i. 407; Vetcuievrt, Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 118. 

21 No generous allusion appears to have been made to the discoverers who 
opened the way for him. Gomara alone gives a brief outline of the letter, but 
the original or copy has never been found, notwithstanding the close search 
made. Since Charles V. received it on the eve of his departure for Germany, 
it occurred to Robertson that the Vienna archives might throw on it some 
light, and the consequent search led to the discovery of an authenticated copy 
of the companion letter from the municipality of Villa Rica, but nothing re- 
lating to Cortes' report. Hist. Am. , preface, x.-xi. Panes insists that the letter 
must have existed in the Vienna Court Library at one time. Doc. Domin. Esp., 
MS., 59-60. Barcia suggests several ways in which it might have been lost; 
one being its production before the royal council at the instance of Panfilo de 
Narvaez. Bibl. Occid., tit. iv. ii. ~){)S. Fortunately the companion letter and 
other narratives cover its essential points. 


The second letter was by the ayuntamiento of Villa 
Rica, dated July 10, 1519, 22 covering not only the 
same ground, but giving an account of the vo} r ages of 
discovery by Cordoba and Grijalva, the reasons for 
founding a colony, and for Cortes' appointment. The 
features of the countr} 7 , its resources and inhabitants, 
were touched upon, and the belief expressed that of 
gold, silver, and precious stones "there is in the land 
as much as in that where it is said Solomon took the 
gold for the temple." Velazquez was exposed as a 
cruel, dishonest, and incompetent governor, and as 
such most dangerous to be intrusted with the control 
of these vast and rich territories. They asked for an 
investigation to prove the charges, as well as the 
propriety of their own acts; and concluded by recom- 
mending that Cortes, whose character and conduct 
stamped him a loyal subject and an able leader, be con- 
firmed in his offices, till the conquest of the country, 
at least, should have been achieved. 23 

The third letter, even longer than this, though of 
similar tenor, was signed by the representative men 
in the army, 24 and concluded by praying that their 
services and hardships be rewarded with grants, and 
that Cortes be confirmed in the government till the 
king might be pleased to appoint an infante or a 
grandee of the highest class, for so large and rich a 
country ought to be ruled by none else. Should the 
designing bishop of Burgos of his accord "send us a 

22 'El Cabildo escriuio juntamente con diez soldados e iva yo firmado 

enella. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. VerdacL, 36. 

za Written by Cortes' most devoted friends, and undoubtedly under his 
supervision, we cannot expect to find it other than a labored effort to promote 
his views. Robertson, whose suggestion led to its discovery in the Vienna 
Imperial Library, offers a mere synopsis of the contents. Hist. Am., preface, p. 
xi. ii. 521-2. It is given at length in the Cortes, Cartas, by Gayangos, Paris, 
186G, 1-34, with notes, and with the list of presents appended ; and in Col. Doc. 
///"/., i. 417-72, and in Alaman, Divert., i. 2d app., 41-104, preceded by an 
introductory sketch of the expedition by the collector of the papers, and 
containing the list of presents as checked by Muiioz in 1784 from the Manual 
del Tesorero dc la Casa de la Contratacion de Se villa. 

2t 'Todos los Capitanes, y so' dados juntamente escriuimos otra carta.' 
1>< rncU Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 3(3. 'El cabildo. . . .escriuio. . . .dos letras. Vna 
... .no firmaron sino alcaldes y regidores. La otra fue a cordada y Armada, 
del cabildo y de todos los mas principales.' Oomara, Hist. Mex., 03. 


governor or captain, before we obey him we shall 
inform your royal person." This sentence, which 
Las Casas characterizes as a " great though sweet- 
ened piece of impudence," and several others not in 
harmony with Cortes' own calculated report, were 
probably the cause for the disappearance of the letter 
before it reached the emperor. 25 

The messengers or procuradores left the port July 
16, 26 and although ordered not to touch Cuba, lest 
Velazquez should learn of the mission, Montejo could 
not resist the temptation of taking a peep at his 
estates at Mariel de Cuba, a port close to Habana. 
Here they entered August 23, and took supplies and 
water. This could not of course be done in secret, 
and swelling with rumor the report reached Velazquez 
that his flag-ship had come ballasted with gold, to 
the value of two hundred and seventy thousand pesos. 
No less alarmed than furious at this proof of the 
perfidy he had so long feared, he despatched a fast 
sailing vessel with a strong force under Gonzalo de 

25 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vcrdad., 37, gives a long detail of its contents, par* 
ticularly of the conclusion, wherein the bishop of Burgos is pointed out as 
favoring his friends and relations in the distribution of Indian governments. 
Velazquez enjoyed his special favor in return for the large presents in gold 
and towns he had made, to the prejudice of the crown. Cortes, on reading 
the letter, was highly pleased with the eulogy bestowed upon himself, and 
promised to remember it when rewards came to be distributed, but he ob- 
jected to the prominence given to the discoveries of Cordoba and Grijalva, 
'sino & el solo se atribuia el descubrimiento, y la honra, e honor de todo,' 
and wished to suppress the statement that one fifth of the profits were to be 
given to him. The men declined to hide anything from the king, and so 
Cortes no doubt made the messengers hide the letter. Tapia gives a brief 
synopsis of it, mentioning the objections raised against the bishop of Burgos, 
and the resolution not to obey any orders contrary to their report till the king 
had replied to it — ' e para que otra cosa en contrario de lo que le escrebiamos 
no se hieiese, que S. M. sin saber de que hacia mercedes, no las hiciese, esta- 
bamos prestos de morir 6 tener la tierra en su real nombrc fasta vcr respuesta 
decsta carta.' Relation, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 566. ' Esta carta no vido el 
Emperador, porque, si la viera, no les sucederia ni a CortCs ni a sus consortes el 
negocio tan favorable como abajo se parecera. ' Las Casas, Hist. lad., iv. 4'JS. 

20 ' En una nao que. . . .despache" a 16 de julio del auo de 1519, envi6 a A*. 
A. muy larga y particular relacion. ' Cortex, Cartas, 51; Otiedo, iii. 20 1. ' Ln 
veinte y seis dias del mes de Julio .... partieron de San Juan de Ulua. ' B mal 
Diaz, Hist. Vcrdad., 37. On the next page he says July Gth. The naming 
of Ulua as the port of departure shows also a carelessness of facts ; yet Gomara 
say3 : ' Partieron . . . . de Aquiahuiztla .... a veinta y seis. ' Hist. M<'X. , 6. Still 
Cortes' letter, written so soon after, ought to be correct. Prescott accepts 
the 26th. 


Guzman, the royal treasurer, to capture her; but she 
had stayed only three days at Maricl, and then passed 
safely through the Bahamas Channel, the first to 
make that passage. 27 

The arrival of the messengers at Seville, in October, 
created no small stir, and aided by their treasures and 
reports they became the heroes of the hour. But their 
triumph was of short duration; for Benito Martin, 
the chaplain of Velazquez, happened to be at the port. 
This man at once laid claim to the vessel for his 
master, denounced the persons on board as traitors, 
and prevailed upon the Casa de Contratacion to seize 
the ship, together with the private funds of the com- 
mission, as well as certain money sent by Cortes for 
his father. A still stronger opponent appeared in the 
person of Fonseca, bishop of Burgos, whose interest 
in Velazquez, fostered by a long interchange of favors, 
was strengthened by a projected marriage of the gov- 

27 'Esta fuga fue ocasion de descubrir el derrotero de la Canal de Bahama, 
para la buelta de Espafia, hasta entonces no nauegada, y desde aquella ocasion 
siempre seguida.' Coyolludo, Hist. Yucathan, 41. 'Alaminos. . .fue el primero 
que nauego por aquella canal.' Bcrnal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 36-39. Preju- 
diced against Monte jo, as shown by previous expressions, this author accuses 
him of sending letters to Velazquez by a sailor, who spread the news of the 
mission along his route. Some of the letters were from adherents in Cortes' 
army. 'Pareci6, de otras personas principales que estauan en nuestro Real, 
fueron aconsejados que f uessen a aquella estancia . . . . y aun escriuieron para que 
el Diego Velazquez tuuiesse tiempo de auellos a las manos. ' Velazquez ac- 
cordingly sends two small vessels under Gabriel de Rojas and Guzman to 
pursue the ship, but their cruise between Habana and the Bahamas Channel 
is in vain. Montejo's conduct before and after this indicates nothing that can 
justify the accusations, and Velazquez, in his letter to Figueroa, juez de resi- 
dencia in Espanola, inveighs against one 'Montejo' and his companion for 
taking not only provisions and forty butts of water, but a number of Indians 
from Mariel, and then leaving 'without informing any magistrate or other per- 
son,' taking a dangerous and hitherto unknown route. In Icazbalceta, Col. 
Jj'j^., i. 401. During the investigation held on the subject by the governor, 
it appeared that Juan de Rojas of Habana reported the secret visit of Mon- 
tejo, who, knowing that Rojas had become aware of his presence, wrote him 
at the moment of leaving that he was going to visit Velazquez. From Perez, 
a servant of Rojas and in charge at Mariel, it seems, he exacted an oath not 
to reveal what he had learned of the rich cargo and destination of the vessel. 
Rojas nevertheless obtained the facts from him. Testimonio, in Pachero and 
< '■ Irdi na . ( 'ol. Doc. , xii. 151-204. In a letter to the bishop of Burgoa, October 
12, 1519, Velazquez states that a man at Mariel, Perez probably, was at the 
last moment shown the treasures. Guzman was sent with a vessel in pursuit. 
In Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc. , xii. 248-50. Gomara also says, ' cmbiando 
tras ella vna carauela de armada.' Hist. Mex. t G4; Torquemada, i. 407. 


ernor with his niece. 28 Detaining the messengers and 
their papers by deferred promises and other meas- 
ures, 29 he filled the royal ear with the most damaging 
charges against them and their party in behalf of his 

Velazquez had meanwhile been taking testimony 
against Cortes, and had sent treasurer Guzman to 
Spain with documents and instructions to join Martin 
in pressing his suit before the bishop/ 


Charles V. had been elected emperor, and was busy 
in Spain raising supplies and making preparations on 
a vast scale for presenting an appearance in Germany 
befitting so high a dignity. Previous to embarking 
for Flanders he was to meet the cortes at Compos- 
tela. The messengers from New Spain could afford 
to lose no more time, and so with the aid of Puerto- 
carrero's friends and the men opposed to Fonseca, 
among them the Licenciado Nunez, relator of the 
royal council and related to Cortes, they slipped 
away, and in company with Alaminos and Martin 
Cortes, managed to be presented to the monarch at 

28 'Dona Mayor de Fonseca. El obispo de Burgos ... por la muerte del 
Gran Chanoiller . . . torno a alear y a ser principal.' Las Casas, Hist. Ind., v. 
2; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xi. ; Zun/'r/a, Ancles Ecles. Serilla, 414. 

29 The bishop of Burgos, then at Valladolid, spoke so harshly to Puertocar- 
rero that the latter ventured to remonstrate, and demand that their messages 
be forwarded to the king. A charge was now raked up against Puertocar- 
rero of having three years before carried off a woman from Medellin to the 
Indies, and for this he was cast into prison. Bernal Diaz., Hist. Verdad., 38; 
Veta ncvrt, Teatro Mex. , pt. iii. 119. 

30 Guzman appears to have started in October from Cuba, when Narvaez' 
expedition against Cortes had already begun to be fitted out. Carta de Velaz- 
quez, Oct. 12, 1519, in Col. Doc. Ined., i. 472-5; Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. 
Doc, xii. 246-51; Carta al Figueroa, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, i. 402; Las 
Cam*, Hist. Ind., v. 2. His appeal to the Jeronimite Fathers, says Bernal 
Diaz, met only with rebuff. They considered that Cortes had done well to 
send so rich a present to the king. ' Le embiaron al Diego Velazquez a 
Cuba a vn Licenciado que se dezia Zuazo para que le tomasse residencia 
.... Uelazquez, se congox6 mucho mas, y como de antes era muy gordo, se 
paro flaco en aquellos dias.' Hist. Verdad., 38. Martin petitioned the bishop 
for the repair and return of the messengers' vessel to Velazquez, together 
with another vessel, both to carry reinforcements to the Indies. This was 
needed, partly to prevent the possible conflict between CorteV party and 
i I expedition fitting out under Velazquez to support the men he had 
aire dy sent under Cortes as his lieutenant. Memorial, in Col: Doc Incd., 
i. 40;-9. 


Tordesillas, in the beginning of March. 31 The king 
was not a little pleased with the reports, gilded as 
they were with the richest presents that had as yet 
reached him from his American possessions, 32 but he 
was unfortunately too absorbed with the imperial 
crown and the preparations for departure to give 
more than a passing attention to the subject, and still 
less would he enter into the merits of the claims pre- 
sented. Finding, however, that Fonseca had not been 
impartial in the nratter, he was prevailed on to refer 
it to Cardinal Adrian, and the junta of prelates and 
ministers governing the kingdom during the royal ab- 
sence, before whom the Council of the Indies had also 
to lay its reports. The messengers were meamvhile 
allowed under bond to receive from the seized funds 
what was needed for their support. 33 The powerful 
Fonseca managed, however, by misrepresentation and 
other means, to delay the case, and for about two 
years it dragged its weary length. And yet, where a 
man is strong enough to carve out his own fortune, 
particularly w T here the administration of strict justice 
might send his neck to the halter, the law's delay and 
its susceptibility to perversion may be most fortunate. 

31 Sandoval, Hist. Carlos V., i. 203. 'Vinidronse con la corte hasta llegar 
a la Coruiia, y en este camino los cognosci yo.' Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 499; 
Hcrrera, dec. ii. lib. ix. cap. vii. 

S2 In the Manual de la Casa de Contratacion de la Indias is noted that the 
Cempoala natives were presented to the king, at Tordesillas, in February, or 
March, 1.320, and the presents at Valladolid in April. The Indians were sent 
to Cuba at the close of March, 1521, except one who had died. Cortes, Cartas, 
34; Alaman, Disert., i. 91-104. 

33 According to Bernal Diaz the bishop of Burgos retained not only the 
original letters of the king, but a portion of the presents, which produced a 
sharp letter from Charles. The duplicate letters reached him, however. Hist. 
Verdad., 38-9. This author is not well informed about the movements of the 
procuradores. He lets the king reach Flanders before they arrive, and there 
receive only the reports. 



July-August, 1519. 

Diego Velazquez once Moke — His Supporters in the Camp of Cortes— 
They Attempt Escape — Are Discovered — The Leaders are Seized 
and Executed — Cortes' Ride to Cempoala, and what Came of it- 
He Determines on the Destruction of the Fleet — Preliminary 
Strategems — Several of the Ships Pronounced Unsea worthy— 
The Matter before the Soldiers — The Fleet Sunk — Indignation 
of the Velazquez Faction — One Vessel Remaining — It is Offered 
to any Wishing to Desert — It is finally Sunk — Francisco de 
Garay's Pretensions — Seizure of Some of his Men. 

To the top of a fir-tree, which he curbed and then 
let spring, Theseus fastened the robber Sinis, who 
had been accustomed himself to kill travellers in that 
way. In a hollow brazen bull, which he had made 
for the Sicilian tyrant to roast his victims in, Perillus 
the inventor was roasted. A famous detective was 
hanged at last for house-breaking. Matthew Hop- 
kins, the witch-finder, who about the middle of the 
seventeenth century travelled the country over to 
discover and bring witches to punishment, was finally, 
with pronounced effect, subjected to one of his own 
tests. Witches, he had said, would not sink in water. 
This was a safe proposition for the prosecution; for 
if they sank they were drowned, and if they did not 
sink they were burned. Being at length himself 
charged with witchcraft, the people seized and threw 
him into a river; and as he floated, by his own law he 
was declared a witch, and put to death accordingly. 
In more ways than one, he who invents a guillotine 


is often the first to suffer by it. It is not wise to sow 
dragons' teeth, and expect therefrom a happy harvest. 

Now Diego Velazquez had all his life been sowing 
dragons' teeth, and hunting witches, and building guil- 
lotines, and brazen bulls. Starting from Spain in the 
guise of a noble old soldier, as he advertised himself, 
though some said of him that his sword was bloodless 
and his bravery bravado, he served the usual appren- 
ticeship in the New World, chasing, and mutilating, 
and murdering, and enslaving natives, working to 
death on his plantations those saved for this most 
cruel fate. For this and similar service Diego Colon, 
then ruling the Indies at Espahola, sent him to Cuba 
to play governor there over those inoffensive and 
thrice unlucky savages. Fraud being native to his 
character, no sooner was he fairly seated than he 
repudiated his late master and benefactor, and reported 
directly to the king, even as his own captain of the 
Mexican expedition was now doing. Another of his 
guillotines was the vile treatment of Grijalva for not 
disobeying orders, on. which score he could not com- 
plain against Grijalva's successor. Yet, as head and 
heart frosted with time the Cuban governor was not 
happy: misdeeds never bring true or lasting happi- 
ness. His bitterness, however, was but in the bloom ; 
the full fruit of his folly would come only after the 
consummation of events upon the continent, grand as 
yet beyond conception. Ordinarily it is much easier 
to kill a man than to create one; in this instance it 
was extremely difficult to kill the man that he had 

If among the New World cavaliers such a thing as 
poltroon or coward could be, Diego Velazquez was 
that thing, notwithstanding he had participated in so 
much fighting. Yet I do not call him coward, for 
my pen refuses to couple such a term with that of 
sixteenth-century Spaniard. Certain it is, however, 
that few men in those days preferred conquering 
new lands by deputy to winning glory in person, and 


if this soldier and governor was not a coward, there 
was little of the manly or chivalrous in his bravery. 
He was cautious, yet frequently his cupidity overcame 
his caution ; and when he adventured his gold — for he 
seldom risked his life, either for fame which he dearly 
loved, or for gold which he loved still dearer — it 
was under restrictions ruinous to almost any enter- 
prise. In his ordinary mood he played fairly enough 
the statesman and hero, but in truth his statesmanship 
was superficial, and his heroism theatrical. Las Casas 
calls him a terrible fellow for those who served him, 
and Gomara says he had little stomach for expendi- 
tures. This much allowance, however, should be 
made in any statements of historians respecting the 
governor of Cuba: in their drama of the conquest 
Diego Velazquez plays the part of chief villain to the 
hero Hernan Cortes, when as a matter of fact Cortes 
was the greater villain of the two, principally because 
he was the stronger. 

Even the priests praise Cortes, though many of 
his acts were treacherous; and timidity in a leader 
was accounted the most heinous of crimes. On the 
whole, I agree with Torquemada that the governor 
should have gone against Montezuma in person, if it 
was necessary he should go on such dastardly work 
at all ; but we may be sure that Velazquez would not 
himself venture upon this sea of high exploit, though 
Mollis with a silver cord had tied up the winds in an 
ox-hide, as he did for Ulysses. And now from this 
time forth, and indeed from the moment the unre- 
strainable Estremaduran embarked defying him, the 
sulphurous fire of hatred and revenge burned constant 
in the old man's breast. 

Never was villainy so great that if united with 
high station or ability it could not find supporters; 
for most men are rascals at heart in one direction or 
another. The pretty pair, Velazquez the governor, 
and Cortes the adventurer — so well pitted that the 


difference between them consists chiefly in setting 
off the position of one against the native strength of 
the other, the manners and pusillanimity of the one 
against the fate -defying chivalry of the other — had 
each his active workers not only in Spain, but in 
America, those of Velazquez being some of them in 
the very camp of Cortes. Since the royal grant of 
superior powers to Velazquez, this faction has lifted 
its head. And now its brain works. 

The messengers for Spain had scarcely left the 
port before these malcontents form a plot, this time 
not with the sole desire to return to a more com- 
fortable and secure life, but with a view to advise 
Velazquez of the treasure ship so close at hand. 
Amongst them are to be found the priest Juan Diaz; 
Juan Escudero, the alguacil of Baracoa, who be- 
guiled and surrendered Corte's into the hands of the 
authorities ; Diego Cermeno and Gonzalo de Umbria, 
pilots; Bernardino de Coria, and Alonso Peiiate, be- 
side several leading men who merely countenanced 
the plot. 1 They have already secured a small vessel 
with the necessary supplies, and the night of embark- 
ment is at hand, when Coria repents and betrays his 

Cortes is profoundly moved. It is not so much 
the hot indignation that stirs his breast against the 
traitors as the li^ht from afar that seems to. float in 
upon his mind like an inspiration, showing him more 
vividly than he had ever seen it before, his situation. 
So lately a lax and frivolous youth, apparently of 
inept nature, wrought to stiffer consistency by some 
years of New World kneading, by a stroke of the 

1 The name3 vary somewhat in different authorities, Bernal Diaz including 
instead of Pefiatc, a number of the Gibraltar sailors known as Penates, who 
were lashed at Cozumel for theft. The plot was hatched ' Desde fi quatro 
dias que partieron nuestros Procuradores. ' Hist. Verdad. , 39. Cortes mentions 
only four 'determinado de tomar un bergantin . . . . y matar al maestre del, y 
irse a la isla Fernandina.' Cartas, 53-4. Gomara assumes them to be the 
same who last revolted on setting out for Tizapantzinco. Hist. Mex., 64. 
' Pusieron .... por obra de hurtar un navio pequeno, 6 salir a robar lo que 
llovaban para el rey.' Tapia, Relation, in Icazbalcela, Col. Doc, ii. 5G3. Peter 
Martyr jumbles the names, dec. v. cap. i. 
Hist. Mex.. Vol. I. 12 


rarest fortune he suddenly finds himself a commandei 
of men, in a virgin field of enterprise fascinating 
beyond expression, and offering to the soldier possi- 
bilities excelled by nothing within the century. As 
the mind enlarges to take in these possibilities, the 
whole being seems to enlarge with it, the unstable 
adventurer is a thing of the past, and behold a mighty 
rock fills the place. Against it heads shall beat 
unprofitably. The momentous question of to be or 
not to be is forever determined; it is an affair simply 
of life now. Life and the power of which he finds 
himself possessed shall rise or fall together; and if 
his life, then the lives of others. No life shall be 
more precious to him than his own; no life shall be 
accounted precious at all that stands in the way of 
his plans. To a lady who complained of the burning 
of the Palatinate by Turenne, Napoleon answered: 
" And why not, madame, if it was necessary to 
his designs?" The Palatinate! ay, and a hundred 
million souls fluns: into the same fire, ere the one 
omnipotent soul shall suffer the least abridgment. 
It was a small matter, and he would do it; all the 
islands of the Western Inde he would uproot and fling 
into the face of the Cuban governor before he would 
yield one jot of his stolen advantage. Each for him- 
self were Velazquez, Columbus, and Charles, and the 
rest of this world's great and little ones, and Cortes 
would be for himself. Henceforth, like Themistocles, 
though he would die for his country he would not 
trust her. Return to Cuba he well knew for him was 
death, or ignominy worse than death. His only way 
was toward Mexico. As well first as last. All the 
past life of Cortes, all his purposes for the future, 
concentred in these resolves to make them the pivot 
of his destiny. Cortes, master of kings, arbiter of 
men's lives! As for these traitors, they shall die; 
and if other impediments appear, as presently we 
shall see them appear, be they in the form of eye or 
right hand, they shall be removed. Tyrant, he might 


be branded; ay, as well that as another name, for so 
are great ends often brought to pass by small means. 
Unpleasant as it may be, the survivors may as well 
bear in mind that it will be less difficult another time. 

So the conspirators are promptly seized and sen- 
tenced, Escudero and Cermeno to be hanged, Umbrfa 
to lose his feet, and others to receive each two hun- 
dred lashes. 2 Under cover of his cloth Padre Diaz, 
the ringleader and most guilty of them all, escapes 
with a reprimand. As for the rest, though among 
them were some equally guilty, they were treated with 
such dissembling courtesy and prudence as either to 
render them harmless or to convert them into friends. 
" Happy the man who cannot write, if it save him 
from such business as this I" exclaimed the com- 
mander, as he affixed his name to the death-warrants. 
For notwithstanding his inexorable resolve he was 
troubled, and would not see his comrades die though 
they would have sacrificed him. On the morning of 
the day of execution he set off at breakneck speed 
for Cempoala, after ordering two hundred soldiers to 
follow with the horses and join a similar force which 
had left three days before under Alvarado. 3 

Cortes' brain was in a whirl during that ride. It 
was a horrible thing, this hanging of Spaniards, cutting 
off feet, and flogging. Viewed in one light it was but 
a common piece of military discipline; from another 
stand-point it was the act of an outlaw. The greater 
part of the little army was with the commander; to 
this full extent the men believed in him, that on his 

2 Thus Cortes had his revenge on the alguacil. * Y no le vali6 el ser su 
Compadre,' says Vetancvrt, with a hasty assumption which is not uncommon 
with him. Teatro Mex., pt. iii. 119. Gomara mentions no mutilation. ' Parece 

claro ser aquestas obras, propias de averiguado tirano, ' says Las Casas, 

Hist. hid. , iv. 496, which may be regarded as a singularly mild expression for 
the bishop. Herrera dwells upon Cermeilo's extraordinary skill with the 
leaping-pole ; he could also smell land fifteen leagues off the coast, dec. ii. lib. 
v. cap. xiv. 'Coria, vezino que fue despues de Chiapa.' Bernal Diaz y Hist. 
Verdad., 39. 

3 ' Embiado por los pueblos de la sierra, porque tuuiessen que comer; 

porque en nuestra Villa passauamos mucha necessidad de bastimentos. ' Id. 
This seems unlikely, since the Totonacs were not only willing, but bound, to 
provide supplies. 


valor and discretion they would adventure their lives. 
With most men beliefs are but prejudices, and opinions 
tastes. These Spaniards not only believed in their 
general, but they held to a most impetuous belief in 
themselves. They could do not only anything that 
any one else ever had done or could do, but they could 
command the supernatural, and fight with or against 
phantoms and devils. They were a host in themselves ; 
besides which the hosts of Jehovah were on their side. 
And Cortes measured his men and their capabilities, 
not as Xerxes measured his army, by filling suc- 
cessively a pen capable of holding just ten thousand; 
he measured them rather by his ambition, which was 
as bright and as limitless as the firmament. Already 
they were heroes, whose story presently should vie in 
thrilling interest with the most romantic tales of chiv- 
airy and knight-errantry, and in whom the strongest 
human passions were so blended as to lift them for a 
time out of the hand of fate and make their fortunes 
their own. The thirst for wealth, the enthusiasm of 
religion, the love of glory, united with reckless daring 
and excessive loyalty, formed the most powerful in 
centives to action. Life to them without the attain- 
ment of their object was valueless; they would do or 
die ; for to die in doing was life, whereas to live failing 
was worse than death. Cortes felt all this, though it 
scarcely lay on his mind in threads of tangible thought. 
There was enough however that was tangible in his 
thinkings, and exceedingly troubling. Unfortunately 
the mind and heart of all his people were not of the 
complexion he would have them. And those ships. 
And the disaffected men lying so near them, looking 
wistfully at them every morning, and plotting, and 
plotting all the day long. Like the Palatinate to 
Turenne, like anything that seduced from the stern 
purposes of Cortes, it were better they were not. 

This thought once flashed into his mind fastened 
itself there. And it grew. And Cortes grew with it, 
until the man and the idea filled all that country, and 


became the wonder and admiration of the world. 
Destroy the ships ! Cut off all escape, should such be 
needed in case of failure ! Burn the bridge that spans 
time, and bring to his desperate desire the aid of the 
eternities! The thought of it alone was daring; more 
fearfully fascinating it became as Cortes dashed along 
toward Cempoala, and by the time he had reached his 
destination the thing was determined, and he might 
with Caesar at the Rubicon exclaim, Jacta est alea! 
But what would his soldiers say ? They must be made 
to feel as he feels, to see with his eyes, and to swell 
with his ambition. 

The confession of the conspirators opened the eyes 
of Cortes to a fact which surely he had seen often 
enough before, though by reason of his generous 
nature which forgot an injury immediately it was for- 
given, it had not been much in his mind of late, namely, 
that too many of his companions were lukewarm, if 
not openly disaffected. They could not forget that 
Cortes was a common man like themselves, their 
superior in name only, and placed over them for 
the accomplishment of this single purpose. They 
felt they had a right to say whether they would 
remain and take the desperate chance their leader 
seemed determined on, and to act on that right with 
or without his consent. And their position assuredly 
was sound; whether it was sensible depended greatly 
on their ability to sustain themselves in it. Cortes 
was exercising the arbitrary power of a majority to 
drive the minority as it appeared to their death. They 
had a perfect right to rebel; they had not entered the 
service under any such compact. Cortes himself was 
a rebel; hence the rebellion of the Velazquez men, 
being a rebelling against a rebel, was in truth an ad- 
herence to loyalty. Here as everywhere it was might 
that made right; and, indeed, with the right of these 
matters the narrator has little to do. 

Success, shame, fear, bright prospects, had all lent 
their aid to hold the discontented in check, but in 


these several regards feeling and opinion were subject 
to daily fluctuations. Let serious danger or reverses 
come, and they would flee in a moment if they could. 
And the fleet lying so near was a constant temptation. 
Cut that off, and the nerves of every man there would 
be freshly strung. The meanest would suddenly be- 
come charged with a kind of nobility; they would at 
once become inspired with the courage that comes 
from desperation. Often those least inclined to fight- 
when forced to it are the most indifferent to death. 
Other dormant elements would be brought out by the 
disappearance of those ships; union, fraternity, com- 
plete community, not only of interest but of life. Their 
leader with multiplied power would become their god. 
On him they would be dependent for all things; 
for food and raiment, for riches, glory, and every suc- 
cess; for life itself. Cortes saw all this, pondered it 
well, and thought it would be very pretty to play the 
god awhile. He would much prefer it to confinement 
in old Velazquez' plaza-pen, or even in a Seville prison. 
Cortes was now certain in his own mind that if his 
band remained unbroken either by internal dissension 
or by white men yet to arrive, he would tread the 
streets of the Mexican capital before he entered the 
gates of the celestial city. If Montezuma would not 
admit him peaceably, he would gather such a force 
of the emperor's enemies as would pull the kingdom 
down about his ears. It would be necessary on going 
inland to leave a garrison at Villa Rica; but it would 
be madness to leave also vessels in which they could 
sail away to Cuba or elsewhere. And finally, if 
the ships were destroyed, the sailors, who otherwise 
would be required to care for them, might be added 
to the army. Such were the arguments which the 
commander would use to win the consent of his people 
to one of the most desperate and daring acts ever 
conceived by a strategist of any age or nation. 

Not that such consent was necessary. He might 
destroy the ships and settle with the soldiers after- 


ward. The deed accomplished, with or without their 
consent, there would be but one course open to 
them. Nevertheless he .preferred they should think 
themselves the authors of it rather than feel that they 
had been tricked, or in any way unfairly dealt with. 
And with the moral he would shift the pecuniary 
responsibility to their shoulders. So he went to work 
as usual, with instruments apparently independent, 
but whose every step and word were of his directing. 
One day quickly thereafter it came to pass that the 
masters of several of the largest ships appeared be- 
fore the captain-general with lengthened faces well 
put on, with the sad intelligence that their respective 
craft were unseaworthy; indeed one of them had 
sunk already. They did not say they had secretly 
bored holes in them according to instructions. Cortes 
was surprised, nay he was painfully affected; Roscius 
himself could not have performed the part better; 
"for well he could dissemble when it served his pur- 
pose," chimes in Las Casas. With Christian fortitude 
he said: "Well, the will of God be done; but look 
you sharply to the other ships." Barnacles were then 
freely discussed, and teredos. And so well obeyed 
the mariners their instructions that soon they were 
able to swear that all the vessels save three were un- 
safe, and even these required costly repairs before 
they would be seaworthy. 4 Thus as by the hand 
of providence, to the minds of the men as they 
were able to bear it, the deed unfolded. Soon quite 
apparent became the expediency of abandoning such 
vessels as were leaking badly; there was trouble and 
no profit in attempting to maintain them, for they 
would surely have to be abandoned in the end. "And 
indeed, fellow-soldiers," continued Cortes, "I am not 

* Testirnonio deMontejo yPuertocarrero, in Col. Doc. Ined. , i. 489, 494. ' Vinie- 
sen a 61, cuando cstuviese mucha gente con el junta, y le denunciasen como no 
podian veneer el agua de los navios.' Las Casas, Hist. Ind., iv. 497. 'Tuuo 
forma para que los soldados mas aficionados que tenia se lo pidiessen. . . .Los 
soldadossc lo pidieron, y dello se recibio auto por ante escriuano.' Herrera, 
dec. ii. lib. v. cap. xiv. ' Le aconscjamos los que eramos sus amigos, que no 
dexasse Nauio en el Puerto.' Bemal Diaz, J list. Verdad., 39. 


sure but it were best to doom to destruction also the 
others, and so secure the cooperation of the sailors in 
the coming campaign, instead of leaving them in idle- 
ness to hatch fresh treachery." This intimation was 
successful, as had been foreordained by the ruler of 
these events it should be. It was forthwith resolved 
to scuttle all the ships but one, the one brought by 
Salcedo. Accordingly Escalante, the alguacil mayor, 
a brave and able officer wholly devoted to Cortes, 
was sent down to Villa Rica to carry out the' order, 
with the aid of the picked soldiers there stationed. 
Sails, anchors, cables, and everything that could be 
utilized were removed, and a few hours later some 
small boats were all that remained of the Cuban 
fleet. 5 

It was then the community first realized its sit- 
uation. The followers of Cortes, with unbounded 
faith in their leader, did not so much care, but the 
partisans of Velazquez, few of whom knew that the 
affair had been coolly predetermined, were somewhat 
agitated. And when on closer inquiry they were 
enlightened by certain of the mariners, the cry arose 
that they were betrayed; they were lambs led to the 
slaughter. Cortes promptly faced the now furious 
crowd. What did they want? Were their lives more 
precious than those of the rest? "For shame! Be 
men!" he cried, in conclusion. "You should know 
ere this how vain are the attempts to thwart my 
purpose. Look on this magnificent land with its 
vast treasures, and narrow not your vision to your 
insignificant selves. Think of your glorious reward, 
present and to come, and trust in God, who, if it so 
please him, can conquer this empire with a single arm. 
Yet if there be one here still so craven as to wish 
to turn his back on the glories and advantages thus 

5 ' Los Pilotos, e Maestres viejos, y marineros, que no era buenos para ir a 
la gnerra, que se quedassen en la Villa, y co dos chinchorros que tuuiessen cargo 
dc pescar....y luego se vino (Escalante) a Cempoal con vna Capitania de 
hombres de la mar, que fuessen los que sacaron de los Nauios, y salieron 
al r unos dellos muy buenos soldados.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 40. 


offered; if there be one here so base, so recreant to 
heaven, to his king, to his comrades, as to slink from 
such honorable duty, in God's name let him go. There 
is one ship left, which I will equip at my own charge 
to give that man the immortal infamy he deserves." 
This he said and much more, and to the desired effect. 
The speaker knew well how to play upon his men, 
as on an instrument, so that they would respond in 
any tune he pleased. Cheers rent the air as he con- 
cluded, in which the opposition were forced to join 
through very shame. Seeing which Cortes gently 
intimated, "Would it not be well to destroy the 
remaining vessel, and so make a safe, clean thing of 
it?" In the enthusiasm of the moment the act was 
consummated with hearty approval. 6 

6 It is generally admitted that Cortds suggested the idea of destroying the 
fleet, for even Bernal Diaz, who at first gives the credit to the men by saying, 
'le aconscjamos los que eramos sus amigos,' confesses on the "following page 
that ' el mismo Cortes lo tenia ya concertado. ' Hist. Verdad. , 39-40. The 
preponderating testimony also shows that the masters made their report in 
public, with the evident object, as the best authorities clearly indicate, of 
obtaining the consent of the responsible majority for the scuttling. During 
the partition of treasures at Mexico, large shares were set aside for Cortes 
and \ elazquez to cover the cost of the fleet and the outfit, ' que dimos al 
traues con ellos, pues todos fuimos en cllos,' Denial Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 84, 
which is proof, in addition to the reliable assertion that the deed was agreed 
upon by the majority. CorteY expression, 'los echo' a la costa,' Cartas, 54, 
is merely that of a leader of that party or majority, who besides really 
gives credit to others. Hence the conclusion of Prescott and others, that the 
scuttling was done on his own responsibility, is not well founded. Cortes 
was clever enough always to have those present who were ready to take any 
responsibility for him that he might wish. The phrase, c his was the greatest 
sacrifice, for they (the vessels) were his property,' PrescotfsMex., i. 374, is also 
wrong, for he was compensated by the army. And it is an exaggeration to say 
that the execution of the measure ' in the face of an incensed and desperate 
soldiery, was an act of resolution that has few parallels in history,' Id., 376, 
since his party supported him. According to Gomara the pilots bore holes in the 
vessels, and bring their report, whereupon five vessels are first sunk ; shortly 
afterward the remainder except one are scuttled. The offer of this vessel to 
those who wished to return was made with a view to learn who were the 
cowards and malcontents. Many indeed did ask for leave, but half of them were 
sailors. Others kept quiet out of shame. Hist. Mcx. , G5. It was never Cortes' 
policy to mark the disaffected, however. This author is followed by Torque- 
mada, ' porque asi se ha platicado siempre entre las Gentes, que mas supicron 
de esta Jornada, ' i. 409, and on the strength of this the latter argues that 
Hcrrera's version, dec. ii. lib. v. cap. xiv., which adheres chiefly to Bernal 
Diaz', must be wrong. Tapia, Relation, in Icazbalceta, Col. Hoc. , ii. 5G3, con- 
forms chiefly to Gomara. Robertson, after following Bernal Diaz, takes the 
trouble of having the ships 'drawn ashore and . . . .broke in pieces.' Hist. Am., 
ii. 33-4; Clavifjcro. S 'tor hi Mess. , iii. 35-6; Oviedo, Hist. Gen., iii. 2G2; Sando- 
val, Hid. Carlos V., i. 171; Peter Martyr, dec. v. cap. i. Peralta has them 


" To Mexico!" was now the cry, and preparations 
for the march were at once made. Escalante, whose 
character and services had endeared him to Cortes, 

burned by secret agents of Cortes. Nat. Hist, 76. Solis, ever zealous 
for his hero, objects to Bernal Diaz' attempt to pluck any of the glory, and 
scouts the idea that fears of pecuniary liability could have influenced Cortes 
to gain the approval of others for his act. ' Tuvo a destreza de historiador el 
penetrar lo interior de las acciones, ' is the complacent tribute to his own skill 
in penetrating the question. Hist. Mex., i. 214-15. The view of the founder- 
ing fleet, appended to some editions of his work, has been extensively copied. 
One is given in the Antwerp edition of 1704, 141. A still finer view, with 
the men busy on shore, and the sinking vessels in the distance, is to be 
found in the Madrid issue of 1783, i. 213. The destruction of the fleet has 
been lauded in extravagant terms by almost every authority, from Gomara 
and Solis to Robertson and Prescott, as an unparalleled deed. Of previous 
examples there are enough, however, even though the motives and the 
means differ. We may go back to iEneas, to whose fleet the wives of the 
party applied the torch, tired of roaming; or we may point to Agathocles, 
who first fired his soldiers with a resolution to conquer or to die, and 
then compelled them to keep their word by firing the vessels. Julian offered 
a tamer instance during his campaign on the Tigris ; but the deed of the ter- 
rible Barbarossa in the Mediterranean, only a few years before the Mexican 
campaign, was marked by reckless determination. Still examples little affect 
the greatness of an act ; motives, means, and results afford the criteria. 'Pocos 
exemplos destos ay, y aquellos son de grandes hombres. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 

65. ' Una de las acciones en que mas se reconoce la grandeza de su animo 

Y no sabemos si de su gdnero se hallara mayor alguna en todo el campo de 
las Historias.' Solis, Hist. Mcx., i. 213. 'An effort of magnanimity, to which 
there is nothing parallel in history.' Robertson, Hist. Am., ii. 34. 'Un' im- 
presa, che da per se sola bastcrebbe a far conoscere la sua magnanimita, e ad 
immortalare il suo nome. ' Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 35; Prescott, Mex., i. 
375-G, is equally carried away, and he finds more words for his admiration. 
He is wrong in supposing that one of the vessels in the harbor was left intact; 
the exempt ship referred to by a chronicler was the one carrying the messen- 
gers to Spain. 

Antonio de Solis y Ribadeneyra is remarkable as the first Spanish historian 
of the conquest. It appears to us strange that an episode so glorious to the 
fame of Castilians should have been allowed to lie so long neglected in the 
musty pages of their chroniclers. True, these were worthy, zealous men, who 
conscientiously narrated every occurrence of any note, but their standard for 
historic truth and dignity caused them to clothe facts, however striking, in a 
garb of dreary gravity, dryness of detail, and ambiguous confusion, which dis- 
couraged even the student. It required the dramatic eye of the composer and 
the imagination of the poet to appreciate the picturesque sketches of a strange 
people now fading into oblivion, the grandeur of a semi-savage pageantry, the 
romantic exploits that recalled the achievements of the Cid. This faculty 
was innate in Solis, developed besides by a long and successful career in let- 
ters. He had profited also by the advantages opened to him as the secretary 
of Conde de Oropesa, Viceroy of Navarre and of Valencia, who Maecenas- 
like fostered the talents and aided in the promotion of the promising savant, 
for as such he already ranked. Cradled in the famous college town of Alcala 
de Henares, he had given early evidence of talent, and at Salamanca uni- 
versity he had signalized himself in his seventeenth year by producing a 
comedy of considerable merit. While pursuing with energy the study of law 
and moral philosophy, he cultivated with hardly less ardor the muses, to 
which end he was no doubt impelled also by his intimacy with the illustrious 


was placed in command of Villa Rica. The native 
chiefs were directed to regard him as the representa- 

Calderon. Several of his dramas were received with acclamation, and one was 
translated into French, while his miscellaneous poems, reprinted in our days, 
are marked by a vivid imagination and an elegance which also adorns his let- 
ters. Talents so conspicuous did not wait long for recognition, and with the 
aid of his patron he advanced to the dignities of royal secretary and chief 
chronicler of the Indies. When 56 years old his mind underwent a change, 
and entering the church he abandoned forever the drama and light literature. 
The pen changed only its sphere, however, for it served the historiographer 
zealously, achieving for him the greatest fame; and fame alone, for at his 
death, in April, 1GSG, at the age of 70, deep poverty was his companion. 
When he entered on this office the Indies had lapsed into the dormant 
quietude imposed by a strict and secluding colonial regime. There were no 
stirring incidents to reward the efforts of the historian, save those connected 
with free-booter raids, which offered little that could flatter Spanish pride. 
To achieve fame he must take up some old theme, and present it in a form 
likely to rouse attention by its contrast. Thus it was that he selected the 
thrilling episode of the conquest of Mexico, with the determination to rescue 
it from the unskilful arrangement and repetitions, the want of harmony and 
consistency, the dryness and faulty coloring, to which it had hitherto been 
subjected, and to expend upon it the effects of elegant style and vast eru- 
dition. When the work appeared at Madrid, in 1684, its superior merits were 
instantly recognized, and although the sale at first was not large, editions 
have multiplied till our day, the linest and costliest being the illustrated issue 
of 17S3-4, in two volumes, which I quote, while consulting also the notes of 
several others. So grand and finely elaborated a subject, and that from a 
Spanish historian who was supposed to have exhausted all the available re- 
sources of the Iberian archives, could not fail to rouse general attention 
throughout Europe, and translations were made into different languages. • 
Robertson, among others, while not failing to point out certain blemishes, 
has paid the high compliment of accepting Solis for almost sole guide on 
the conquest, and this with a blindness which at times leads him into most 
amusing errors. Even Prescott warms to his theme in a review of six closely 
printed pages, wherein eulogy, though not unmingled with censure, is stronger 
than a clearer comprehension of the theme would seem to warrant. But in this 
he is impelled to a great extent by his oft displayed tendency to hero worship. 
Solis deserves acknowledgment for bringing order out of chaos, for pre- 
senting in a connected form the narrative of the conquest, and for adorning it 
with an elegant style. But he has fulfilled only a part of the promises made 
in his preface, and above all has he neglected to obtain information on his 
topic beyond that presented in a few of the generally accessible works,- even 
their evidence being not very closely examined. He has also taken great 
liberties with the text, subordinating facts to style and fancy, seizing every 
possible opportunity to manufacture speeches for both native and Spanish 
heroes, and this with an amusing disregard for the consistency of lan- 
guage with the person and the time. His religious tendencies seriously 
interfere with calm judgment, and impel him to rave with bigoted zeal 
against the natives. The hero worship of the dramatist introduces itself to 
such an extent as frequently to overshadow everything else, and to mis- 
represent. 'Sembra piii un panegirico, che una istoria,' says Clavigcro, very 
aptly. S 'tor ia Mess., i. 10. His arguments and deductions are at times most 
childish, while his estimation of himself as a historian and thinker is aired in 
more than one place with a ridiculous gravity. With regard to style, Solis had 
Livy for a model, and belonged to the elder school of historians ; he was its last 
good representative, in fact. His language is expressive and elegant, greatly 
imbued with a poetic spirit not unsuited to the subject, and sustained in 
eloquence, while its pure idiom aids to maintain the work as classic among 


tive of the general, and to supply him with every 
requirement. 7 

Some nine days after the sinking of the fleet a 
messenger arrived from Esca]ar_tc, announcing that 
four vessels 8 had passed by the harbor, refusing to 
enter, and had anchored three leagues off, at the 
mouth of a river. Fearing the descent upon him of 
Velazquez, Cortes hurried off with four horsemen, 
after selecting fifty soldiers to follow. Alvarado and 
Sandoval were left jointly in charge of the army, 
to the exclusion of Avila, who manifested no little 
jealousy of the latter. Cortes halted at the town 
merely to learn particulars, declining Escalante's 
hospitality with the proverb, "A lame goat has no 
rest." On the way to the vessels they met a notary 
with two witnesses, 9 commissioned to arrange a boun- 
dary on behalf of Francisco de Garay, who claimed 
the coast to the north as first discoverer, and desired 
to form a settlement a little beyond Nautla. It ap- 
peared that Garay, who had come out with Diego 
Colon, and had risen from procurador of Espanola 

Castilians. ' Ingenio Conceptuoso, Floridisimo, i Eloquente, ' is the observa- 
tion in the work of his historiographic predecessor, Pinelo, Epitome, ii. 607. 
But it lacks in boldness and dignity ; the rhapsodies are often misplaced, and 
the verboseness is tiresome. Some of the faults are of course due to the time, 
but not the many, and it also becomes only too apparent that Solis is so con- 
ceitedly infatuated with his affected grandiloquence as to sacrifice facts 
wherever they interfere with its free scope. It is said that he intended to 
continue the history of Mexico after the conquest, and that death alone 
prevented the consummation of the project. But this is mere conjecture, 
and it appears just as likely that the dramatist recognized the effect of 
closing a great work at so appropriate a point as the fall of Mexico. The 
work was taken up, however, by Salazar y Olarte, who published in 1743 the 
second part of the Conquest, till the death of Cortes, abounding in all the 
faults of the superficial and florid composition of Solis. 

7 'Luego le zahumaron [the chiefs] al Juan de Esealante con sus inciensos.' 
Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 40. 'Dej6 en la villa de la Veracruz ciento y cin- 
cuenta hombres con doze de caballo. ' Cortes, Cartas, 52-3. One hundred and 
fifty Spaniards, with two horses and two fire-arms, were left here under Pedro 
de Ircio, Gomara, Hist. Ilex., G5-G, but Bernal Diaz corrects him. 'Al Pedro 
de Ircio no le auian dado cargo ninguno, ni aun de cuadrillero. ' ubi sup.; 
Lctlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 291. The force seems to be altogether too large. 
Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 51, says GO old and suffering soldiers were left as 

! ' Bernal Diaz says one vessel ; but Cortes and other authorities mention four. 

<J Bernal Diaz, who appears to have been with the party, names them a3 
Guillen de la Loa, notary; Andres Nunez, shipwright; Pedro de la Arpa, a 
Valencian, and a fourth man. Hist. Verdad. ,40. 


to become governor of Jamaica, had resolved to 
devote his great wealth to extending his fame as 
explorer and colonizer. On learning from Alaminos 
and his fellow voyagers of the coasts discovered in 
this direction, he resolved to revive the famed projects 
of Ponce de Leon, and with this view despatched a 
small fleet in 1518, under Diego de Camargo. 10 Driven 
back by the Floridans with great slaughter, says 
Gomara, the expedition sailed down to Panuco River, 
again to be repulsed, with the loss of some men, 
who were flayed and eaten. Torralba, steward of 
Garay, was then sent to Spain, and there, with the 
aid of Garay's friends, obtained for him a commission 
as adelantado and governor of the territories that he 
might discover north of Rio San Pedro y San Pablo. 11 
Meanwhile a new expedition was despatched to 
Panuco, under Alonso Alvarez Pineda, to form a 
settlement and to barter for gold. After obtaining 
some three thousand pesos, Pineda sailed southward 
to take possession and to select a site for the colony. 12 
And now while the notary is endeavoring to 
arrange matters with Cortes, Pineda waits for him 
a little distance from the shore. At that moment 

10 ' Armo Francisco de Garay tres carauelas en Iamaica, el afio de mil 
quinietos y deziocho, y fue a tentar la Florida.' Gomara, Hist, hid., 55. 
'Determino de enviar a un hidalgo, llamado Diego de Camargo, a descubrir e 
continuar el descubrimiento que Grijalva habia hecho, con uno 6 con dos 
navios; el cual descubrio la provincia de Panuco, 6, por mejor decir, comenz6 
de alii donde Grijalva se Labia tornado, que fue desde Panuco, y anduvo 
navegando por lacosta cien leguas hacia la Florida.' Las Casas, Hist, hid., iv. 
4GG; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. xi.; Galvano's Discov., 133-4. 

11 See Hist. Mex., i. 29, this series. 'El Rey se las concedio el ailo de 819, 
estando en Barcelona.' Las Casas, loc. cit. ' Torralua . . . truxo prouisiones 
para que fuesse Adelantado, y Gouernador desde el rio de San Pedro, y San 
Pablo, y todo lo que descubriesse : y por aquellas pruisiones embio lucgo tres 
Xauios con hasta dozientos y setenta soldados. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 41. 

12 Bernal Diaz intimates that Pineda had remained at Rio Panuco to colo- 
nize, while one vessel was sent down to take possession where Cortes met 
the men. After giving an account of two expeditions in 1518 and 1519, Go- 
mara says: 'Otros dizen, que no fue mas de vna vez. Sino que como estuuo 
mucho alia cuctan por dos. ' Hist. Ind. , 55. But Las Casas mentions distinctly 
that it was on the strength of Camargo's discoveries, in 1518, that the grant 
was made to Garay in the following year, ubi sup. ' Garai auia corrido mucha 
costa en demada de la Florida, y tocado en vn rio y tierra, cuyo rey se llamaua 
Panuco, donde vieron oro, ami que poco. Y que sin salir de las naues auia res- 
catado hasta tres mil pesos de oro.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., G7; Cortes, Cartas, 
5G-7; Oviedo, iii. 2G2-3; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. i. 


Cortes cared little for Garays or boundaries; but he 
would by no means object to a few more Spaniards to 
take the place of those he had hanged, and of others 
whom he might yet be obliged to hang. To this end 
he converted perforce to his cause the notary and his 
attendants. Then learning from them that Pineda 
could on no account be prevailed on to land for a 
conference, Cortes signalled to the vessels with the 
hope that more men would come on shore. This 
failing, he bethought himself of letting three of his 
men exchange clothes with the new-comers and ap- 
proach the landing, while he marched back with the 
rest in full view of the vessels. As soon as it grew 
dark, the whole force returned to hide near the spot. 
It was not till late the following morning that the 
suspicious Pineda responded to the signals from 
shore, and sent off a boat with armed men. The trio 
now withdrew behind some bushes, as if for shade. 
Four Spaniards and one Indian landed, armed with 
two firelocks and two cross-bows, and on reaching 
the shrubbery they were pounced upon by the hidden 
force, while the boat pushed off to join the vessels all 
ready to sail. 13 

13 ' El uno (of the captured ones) era maestre de la una nao, e* puso fuego a 
la escopeta, e matara al capitan de la Veracruz, sino que a la media le falt6 
el fuego.' Oviedo, iii. 2C3. Bernal Diaz, in a less intelligent account of the 
capture, states that only two men landed. 'Por manera que se huuieron 
de aquel Nauio seis soldados . . . . Y esto es lo que se hizo, y no lo que escriue 
el Coronista Gomara.' Hist. Verdad., 41. But CorteV version must surely be 
the best, since it was related shortly after the occurrence, and by an im- 
mediate participator in the events. 



August-September, 1519. 

Enthusiasm of the Army — The Force — The Totonacs Advise the Tlas- 
calan Route — Arrival at Jalapa — A Look Backward — The Anahuao 
Plateau — Meeting with Olintetl — Arrival in the Country op 
the Tlascaltecs — The Senate Convenes and Receives the Envoys 
of Cortes — An Encounter — A More Serious Battle — Xicotencatl 
Resolves to Try the Prowess of the Invaders, and is Defeated. 

The Garay affair having thus been disposed of, it 
was announced to the Spaniards that tjiey would 
now go in quest of the great Montezuma. For as 
the conciliating sea smooths the sand which but 
lately it ground in its determinate purpose from the 
rocks, so had Cortes quieted the ruffled temper of 
the malcontents, till they were committed as one 
man to the will of the leader. And he smiled some- 
what grimly as he concluded his harangue: "To 
success or total destruction now we march ; for there 
is open to us no retreat. In Christ we trust, and on 
our arms rely. And though few in number, our 
hearts are strong." The soldiers shouted their ap- 
proval, and again signified their desire to press onward 
to Mexico. 1 

The force for the expedition consisted of about 
four hundred and fifty Spaniards, with fifteen horses, 
and six or seven light guns, attended by a consider- 
able number of Indian warriors and carriers, in- 
cluding Cubans. The Totonac force comprised also 
forty chiefs, taken really as hostages, among whom 

1 ' Y todos a vna le respondimos, que hariamos lo que ordenasse, que echada 
estaua la suerte de la buena 6 mala ventura. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 40. 




are named Mamexi, Tamalli, and Teuch, the latter 
proving a most able and trusty guide and counsellor. 2 
The advice of the Totonacs is to take the route 
through Tlascala, as a state friendly to them and bit- 
terly opposed to the Mexicans, and on the 16th of 
August the army leaves Cempoala for the interior. 
Soon begins the gentle ascent which lifts them from 
oppressive heat and overpowering vegetation to cooler 

o Ciflaltepec 


Nauhcampatepetl/I \^P^*™ 
or Cofre de Perote Aoi- o JalapaV-^ — ^ 

Teoxihuacan >;^. ' ac °\Quial]uizfla-'-- 


.TUcoj»n^/^-^ f Vs=i/ Tezcuco Calpulalpan Teoxihuacan j£]fi x 

oJOzMiF, . -, °Zultepec. .AtJ.T, Te JoQa ° r f#>^ ^f^--C elD P £ 

c p|^oIzta P alapan _* "»V^,. Xbcottan or StfrOk? 

.V k o-taA Tlascala „ ° o #£i 

! -il 

Tlascala * c °° o #!&&■ 

I.™ TTTTF.\"OT7TVPr> *P' 


1 2 taC y i u w a u^samss 

j? N^f^^g^Chalco hukxotzinco ir N 

CuU ^** C jf o Tlalmanal f€Popocatepetl n . . ^ 
Ayofi^ Q jjK, f - r - Orizabag^ 

.Aonaquemecan CHOLULA AcitzW^ 

.Ainaquemecan ciIOLULA Acatzimro^ ^^ 

Acaizmgo .-i,„i\izap; 

Tepeaca o ^fcu^r 

Quauhqoechollaao- ' ° VecLolac. ° 

-. x o °Tecalco. 





2 Bernal Diaz states, 65, that on reaching Mexico City 'no llegauamos a 
450 soldados,' intimating that they must have amounted to fully this figure 
on leaving Villa Rica. This would allow fully 1*20 men to Escalante, which 
appears a large garrison, even after making allowances for the old and Infirm. 
Gomara places the force at 400 Spaniards, with 15 horses, 6 guns, and 1300 
Indians, including Cubans and carriers. Conq. Mex. , 67 ; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. 
vi. cap. i. ; Torquemada, i. 411, 517. Ixtlilxochitl increases this to 7 guns, 
1300 warriors, and 1000 carriers. ' Con quince de caballo y trescientos peones.' 
Cortes, Cartas, 52. Cortes refers later on to 400 Cempoalans. He mentions 
merely 200 carriers. Clavigero has 415 Spaniards, a figure resulting from a 
misreading of his original. Storia Mess., iii. 36. Solis, Ilist. Mex., i. 216-17, 
followed of course by Robertson, changes the figures to 500 men, 200 carriers, 
and 400 Indian troops. A page, twelve years old, was left with the lord of 
Cempoala to learn the language. ' Tomaron un indio principal que llamaban 
Tlacochalcatl para que los mostrase el camino,' taken from the country by 
Grijalva, and brought back by Cortds. Sahagun, Conq. Mex., 16. Shortly 
before beginning the march, says Duran, a messenger arrived from Mexico 
in the person of Motelchiuh, sent by Montezuma to serve as guide, and to 
provide for the proper service and hospitality on the way. Being told that no 
guide was needed, he returned, leaving orders with the caciques en route to 
tender good reception to the strangers. Duran, Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 405-10. 


regions, and at the close of the second day is reached 
the beautiful Jalapa, 3 a halting -place between the 
border of the sea and the upper plateau. 

There they turn with one accord and look back. 
How charming ! how inexpressibly refreshing are 
these approaching highlands to the Spaniards, so 
lately from the malarious Isthmus and the jungle- 
covered isles, and whose ancestors not long since had 
held all tropics to be uninhabitable; on the border, 
too, of Montezuma's kingdom, wrapped in the soft 
folds of perpetual spring. Before the invaders are 
the ardent waters of the gulf, instant in their humane 
pilgrimage to otherwise frozen and uninhabitable 
lands; before them the low, infectious tierra caliente 
that skirts the lofty interior threateningly, like the 
poisoned garment of Hercules, with vegetation bloated 
by the noxious air and by nourishment sucked from 
the putrid remains of nature's opulence, while over all, 
filled with the remembrance of streams stained san- 
guine from sacrificial altars, passes with sullen sighs 
the low-voiced winds. But a change comes gradually 
as the steep ascent is made that walls the healthful 
table -land of Anahuac. On the templacla terrace 
new foliage is observed, though still glistening with 
sun -painted birds and enlivened by parliaments of 
monkeys. Insects and flowers bathe in waves of 
burning light until they display a variety of colors 
as wonderful as they are brilliant, while from cool 
canons rise metallic mists overspreading the warm 
hills. Blue and purple are the summits in the dis- 
tance, and dim glowing hazy the imperial heights 
beyond that daily baffle the departing sun. And on 
the broad plateau, whose rich earth with copious yield 

3 Meaning ' Spring in the Sand. ' Rivera,Hist. Jalapa, i. app. 7. ' Y la primera 
jornado fuimos a vn pueblo, que se dize Xalapa.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 
41. But the road was too long for one day's march. I may here observe that 
Bernal Diaz is remarkably faulty in his account of this march and of the cam- 
paign into Tlascala, and this is admitted by several writers, who nevertheless 
follow him pretty closely. The place is known the world over for its fairs and 
productions, particularly for the drug bearing its name, and is famous in the 
neighboring districts for its eternal spring and beautiful surroundings. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 13 


of gold and grain allures to cultivation, all the realm 
are out of doors keeping company with the sun. 
From afar comes the music-laden breeze whispering 
its secrets to graceful palms, aloft against the sky, 
and which bend to meet the confidence, while the 
little shrubs stand motionless with awe. Each cluster 
of trees repeats the story, and sings in turn its own 
matin to which the rest are listeners. At night, how 
glittering bright with stars the heavens, which other- 
wise were a shroud of impenetrable blackness. In 
this land of wild Arcadian beauty the beasts are 
free, and man keeps constant holiday. And how the 
hearts of these marauders burned within them as they 
thought, nothing doubting, how soon these glories 
should be Spain's and theirs. 

The boundary of the Totonac territory was crossed, 
and on the fourth day the army entered a province 
called by Cortes Sienchimalen, wherein the sway of 
Montezuma was still maintained. This made no 
difference to the Spaniards, however, for the late 
imperial envoys had left orders with the coast gov- 
ernors to treat the strangers with every consider- 
ation. Of this they had a pleasing experience at 
Xicochimalco,* a strong fortress situated on the slope 
of a steep mountain, to which access could be had 
only by a stairway easily defended. It overlooked 
a sloping plain strewn with villages and farms, 
mustering in all nearly six thousand warriors. 5 With 
replenished stores the expedition began to ascend the 
cordillera in reality, and to approach the pine forests 
which mark the border of the tierra fria. March- 
ing through a hard pass named Nombre de Dios, 6 
they entered another province defended by a fortress, 

4 Identified with Naulinco. Lorenzana, Viage, p. ii. 

5 Cortes refers to a friendly chat with the governor, who mentioned the 
orders he had received to offer the Spaniards all necessities. Cartas, 57. 

6 ' Por ser el primero que en estas tierras habiamos pasado. El cual es tan 
agro y alto, que no lo hay en Espaila otro.' Cortes, Cartas, 57. ' Hoy se llama 
el Paso del Obispo.'' Lorenzana, ubi sup. 'Ay en ella muchas parras con vuas, 
y arboles co miel.' Gomara, Hist. Mex. } 68. 



named Teoxihuacan, 7 in no wise inferior to the first 
for strength or hospitality. They now finished the 
ascent of the cordillera, passed through Tejotla, and for 
three days continued their way through the alkaline 
wastes skirting the ancient volcano of Nauhcampate- 
petl, 8 exposed to chilling winds and hailstorms, which 
the Spaniards with their quilted armor managed to 
endure, but which caused to succumb many of the 
less protected and less hardy Cubans. The brackish 
water also brought sickness. On the fourth day the 
pass of Puerto de Lena, 9 so called from the wood 
piled near some temples, admitted them to the Ana- 
huac plateau, over seven thousand feet above the sea. 
With a less balmy climate and a flora less redundant 
than that of the Antillean stamping-ground, it offered 
on the other hand the attraction of bein^ not unlike 
their native Spain. A smiling valley opened before 
them, doubly alluring to the pinched wanclerers, with 
its broad fields of corn, dotted with houses, and dis- 
playing not far off the gleaming walls and thirteen 
towering temples of Xocotlan, the capital of the dis- 
trict. Some Portuguese soldiers declaring" it the 
very picture of their cherished Castilblanco, this 
name was applied to it. 10 

Cacique Olintetl, nicknamed the temblador from 
the shaking of his fat body, came forth with a suite 
and escorted them through the plaza to the quarters 
assigned them, past pryamids of grinning human 
skulls, estimated by Bernal Diaz at over one hundred 

7 'Hoy se nombra Ixhuacdn de los Reyes.' Lorenzana, Viage. 
8 ' De Nauhcampa, quatre parties, et tepetl, montagne. ' Humboldt, Vues, 
ii. 191. Equivalent to the Spanish name of Cofre de Perote. 

9 Lorenzana believes it to be the later Sierra de la Agua. A map with 
profile of the route is given in Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mcx., ii. 201; and a 
still better map by Orozco y Berra, Itinerario, in Noticias Max., 233. 

10 The name must not be confounded with Zacatlan, as Ixtlilxochitl calls it, 
for this lies north of Tlascala. ' Este valle y poblacion se llama Caltanmi.' 

' Tenia las mayores y mas bien labradas casasque hasta entonces habiamos 

visto.' Cortes, Cartas 58. Lorenzana says, ' the present Tlatlanquitepec,' in 
the lower lying portion of which stood the palace of Caltanni, ' house below ;' 
and there stands the big tree to which the natives say that CortCs tied his 

horse. Viage, pp. iii.-iv. ' Llamase Zaclotan aquel lugar, y el valle Zaca- 

tami.' Gomara,IIist.Mex.,6$; Oviedo, iii. 260. Cocotlan. Bernal Diaz, H int. 
Verdad., 41. 


thousand. There were also piles of bones, and skulls 
suspended from beams, all of which produced far from 
pleasant impressions. This horror was aggravated 
by the evident coldness of their reception, and by the 
scanty fare offered. 11 Olintetl occupied what Cortes 
describes as the " largest and most finely constructed 
houses he had yet seen in this country," wherein two 
thousand servants attended to the wants of himself 
and his thirty wives. 

Impressed by the magnificence of his surroundings, 
Cortes inquired whether he was a subject or ally of 
Montezuma. "Who is not his slave?" was the reply. 
He himself ruled twenty thousand subjects, 12 yet was 
but a lowly vassal of the emperor, at whose command 
thirty chiefs at least could place each one hundred 
thousand warriors in the field. He proceeded to extol 
the imperial wealth and power, and the grandeur of 
the capital, wherein twenty thousand human victims 
were annually given to the idols. This was probably 
intended to awe the little band; "But we/' says 
Bernal Diaz, 13 "with the qualities of Spanish soldiers, 
wished we were there striving for fortunes, despite 
the dangers described." Cortes calmly assured the 
cacique that great as Montezuma was, there were 
vassals of his own king still mightier, with more to the 
same effect ; and he concluded by demanding the sub- 
mission of the cacique, together with a present of gold, 
and the abandonment of sacrifices and cannibalism. 
Olintetl's only reply was that he could do nothing 
without authority from the capital. "Your Monte- 

11 Gomara intimates that the Spaniards were well received, and had 50 men 
sacrificed in their honor. Hist. Mex. , 68. The native records state that bread 
sprinkled with the blood of fresh victims was offered to them, as to idols, but 
this being rejected with abhorrence, pure food was brought. Before this 
sorcerers had been sent to use their arts against them, by spreading diseases, 
casting spells to prevent their advance, and otherwise opposing them. But 
everything failed before the magic influence shed perhaps by the banner of 
the cross. Duran, Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 401-8; Sahagun, Hist. Conq., 14; Acosta, 
Hist. Ind., 518; Torquemada, i. 417-8. 

12 ' Tenia Montezuma en este pueblo, y su comarca, cinco mil soldados de 
guarnicion.' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. ii. 

13 Conq. Mex., 42. 'A muchos valientes por ventura desmayara, ' says to the 
contrary Gomara, Hist. Alex., 69. 


zuma," replied the audacious Spaniard, with suppressed 
anger, "shall speedily send you orders to surrender to 
me gold or any other desired effects in your possession. " 

More generous were the caciques of two towns 
at the other end of the valley, who brought a few 
golden trifles and eight female slaves. 14 The revela- 
tions of the Cempoalans and of Marina concerning the 
wonderful power of the Spaniards, and the honors 
paid them by Montezuma's envoys, had the effect of 
making Olintetl also more liberal with provisions at 
least. Being asked about the road to Mexico he 
recommended that through Cholula, but the Cem- 
poalans representing the Cholultecs as highly treach- 
erous, and devoted to the Aztecs, the Tlascalan route 
was chosen, and four Totonac chiefs were despatched 
to ask permission of the republican rulers to pass 
through their lands. A letter served as mystic creden- 
tials, and a red bushy Flemish hat for a present. 15 

After a stay of four days the army proceeded up 
the valley, without leaving the customary cross, it 
seems, with which they had marked their route hith-. 
erto; the reason for this was the objection of Padre 
Olmedo to expose the emblem to desecration in a 
place not wholly friendly to them. 16 The road lay 
for two leagues through a densely settled district to 
Iztacmixtitlan, the seat of Tenamaxcuicuitl, a town 
which Cortes describes as situated upon a lofty height, 
with very good houses, a population of from five to six 
thousand families, and possessing comforts superior 
to those of Xocotlan. "It has a better fortress," he 

14 Cortes, Cartas, 59. Bernal Diaz assumes that Olintetl was persuaded by 
the Cempoalans to conciliate Cort6s with four slaves, a few paltry pieces of 
jewelry, and a load of cloth. 

15 Camargo sends the letter from Cempoala, together with a sword, a cross- 
bow, and a red silk cap. Hist. TIax., 145. But it is not probable that 
Cortes would deprive himself of such needful articles, not overabundant with 
him, even if he had no objection to let Indians examine them. Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 42-3, despatches two Cempoalans from a later station, and 
this on hearing that the Tlascaltecs had risen to oppose them. 

10 Still Gomara, in his sweeping way, declares that Cortes 'puso muchas 
cruzes en los templos, derrocado los idolos como lo hazia en cada lugar. ' Hist. 
Mex., 70; Tap'ia, Relation, in Irazbalceta, Col. JJoc, ii. 5G7. Twenty leading 
warriors w r ere taken from here, says Bernal Diaz. 


writes, "than there is in half Spain, defended by a 
wall/ barbican, and moats." The caciqne who had 
invited the visit made amends for the cold reception 
of the previous chief, and the Spaniards remained 
for three days waiting in vain for the return of the 
messengers sent to Tlascala. They then passed on- 
ward, reinforced by about three hundred warriors from 
the town. 17 Two leagues' march brought them to the 
boundary of Tlascala, conspicuous by a wall of stone 
and mortar nine feet in height and twenty in breadth, 
which stretched for six miles across a valley, from 
mountain to mountain, and w^as provided with breast- 
works and ditches. 18 

Between latitude 19° and 20° ranges of hills cut 
the plain of Anahuac into four unequal parts. In the 
centre of the one eastward stood the capital of Tlascala. 
The state so carefully protected was about the same 
small territory which we now see on the map, 19 with 
twenty-eight towns, and one hundred and fifty thou- 
sand families, according to the rough census taken by 
Cortes. 20 A branch of the Teo-Chichimec nation, the 
Tlascaltecs had, according to tradition, entered upon 
the plateau shortly before the cognate Aztecs, and, 
after occupying for a time a tract on the western shore 
of Tezcuco Lake, they had tired of the constant dis- 
putes with neighboring tribes and proceeded eastward, 
in three divisions, the largest of which had, late in 
the thirteenth century, taken possession of Tlascala, 
' Place of Bread.' The soil was rich, as implied by the 
name, but owing to the continued wars with former 
enemies, reinforced by the Aztecs, they found little 
opportunity to make available their wealth by means 

17 Clavigero calls tliem 'un competente numero di truppe Messicane del 
presidio di Xocotla,' Stoina Mess., iii. 41, which is unlikely. 

18 See Native Races, ii. 568, et seq. 

19 Fifteen leagues from west to east, ten from north to south, says Tor- 
quemada, i. 276. Herrera extends it to 30 leagues in width. 

20 ' Hay en esta provincia, por visitacion que yo en ella mande" hacer, ciento 
cincuenta mil vecinos.' Cortes, Cartas, 69. In the older edition of these 
letters by Lorenzana, it reads, 500,000 families, a figure which in itself 
indicates an exaggeration, but has nevertheless been widely copied. Gomara, 
hist. Mex., 87. 


of industries and trade, and of late years a blockade 
had been maintained which deprived them of many 
necessaries, among others. salt. But the greater atten- 
tion given in consequence to agriculture, had fostered 
temperate habits and a sinewy constitution, combined 
with a deep love for the soil as the source of all their 
prosperity. Compelled also to devote more time and 
practice to warfare for the preservation of their lib- 
erty than to the higher branches of culture, they 
presented the characteristics of an isolated com- 
munity, in being somewhat behind their neighbors in 
refinement, as well as in the variety of their resources. 

In government the state formed an aristocracy, 
ruled by a senate of the nobility, presided over by 
four supreme hereditary lords, each independent in 
his own section of the territory. This division ex- 
tended also to the capital, which consisted of four 
towns, or districts, Tizatlan, Ocotelulco, Quiahuiztlan, 
and Tepeticpac, ruled respectively by Xicotencatl, 
Maxixcatzin, Teohuayacatzin, and Tlehuexolotl. 21 

It was before this senate that the messengers of 
Cortes appeared, informing them in the name of the 
Cempoalan lord of the arrival of powerful gods from 
the east, who having liberated the Totonacs from 
Montezuma's sway, now desired to visit Tlascala 
in passing through to Mexico, and to offer their 
friendship and alliance. The messengers recommended 
an acceptance of the offer, for although few in num- 
ber the strangers were more than equal to a host. 
They thereupon depicted their appearance, their swift 
steeds, their savage dogs, their caged lightning, as 
well as their gentle faith and manners. The messen- 
gers having retired, the senate proceeded to discussion. 

Prudent Maxixcatzin, lord of the larger and richer 

• i . . . . 

industrial district, called attention to the omens and 

signs which pointed to these visitors, who from all 

21 For further information about Tlascala, see Native Races, ii. and v. 
Torquemada gives a detailed history of the state in i. 259-78. See also 
PrescoWa Mex., i. 411-19; Soria, Lstoria y Fundacton de la Ciadad de Tlax- 
cala, MS. in Aztec, sm. 4' of 48 leaves. 


accounts must be more than mortal, and, if so, it 
would be best to admit them, since resistance must be 
vain. Xicotencatl, the eldest lord, replied to this 
that the interpretation of the signs could not be relied 
on. To him these beings seemed monsters rejected 
by the sea-foam, greedy of gold and luxuries, whose 
steeds devoured the very ground. To admit them 
would be ruinous. Besides, should the invincible Tlas- 
caltecs submit to a mere handful? The gods forbid! 
It was further argued that the amicable relations of 
the strangers with Montezuma and his vassals did 
not accord with their protestations of friendship. This 
might be one of the many Aztec plots to obtain a 
footing in the country. Nor did the destruction of 
idols at Cempoala increase the confidence of a people 
so jealous of its institutions. The discussion waxing 
warmer, senator Temilotecatl suggested the middle 
course of letting the Otomi frontier settlers, who 
were thoroughly devoted to their Tlascaltec patrons, 
make an attack on the invaders, aided by their 
own general Axayacatzin Aicotencatl, son of the old 
lord, and known by the same name. If successful, 
they could claim the glory; if not, they might grant 
the victors the permission they had desired, while 
casting the blame for the attack on the Otomis. This 
was agreed to. 22 

— Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. iii., confounds the two Xicotencatls, and 
Torquemada, in seeking to correct him, applies the title of general to Maxix- 
catzin, i. 416, supposing besides, with Clavigero, that Temilotecatl may be 
another name for Tlehuexolotl. Storla Mess., iii. 40; Brasseur tie Bourbourg, 
Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 133. Jealous of the honor of his countrymen, and eager 
to vindicate them against the charge of duplicity or enmity toward the 
Spaniards, Camargo lets the messengers go back with a friendly invitation. 
After they had started on this mission the idols were consulted, but 
remained mute ; the temples were overthrown by earthquakes, and comets 
appeared, creating a general panic. Hist. Tlax., 144-6. The account of 
the conquest by this author is particularly interesting since Diego Munoz 
Camargo was a native of the valiant little republic of Tlascala, a mestizo, 
says Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mej., ii. 91, who calls him Domingo, while Clavi- 
gero gives him nobility. Storia Mess., i. 10. Born shortly after these events, 
and in contact wich the very men who figured therein, his stories are repro- 
duced from their lips, though colored with the spirit of a convert and 
patriot who, like nearly all of his countrymen, was only too eager to curry 
favor with the dominant race. This is apparent in nearly every line of his 
text, wherein the terms of praise bestowed on the conquerors become not un- 


As the Spaniards halted before the great wall, 
speculating on the strength of the people who had 
erected it, and upon the possible traps it might hide, 
their late hosts again besought them to take the 
Cholula route, but Cempoalan counsel prevailed. 
Waving: aloft his banner, Cortes exclaimed: "Behold 
the cross! Seflores, follow it!" And with this he led 
the way through the semicircular laps of the en- 
trance. The wall was not provided with sentinels, and 
the army met with no obstacles. 23 Attended by ten 
horsemen, the general advanced to reconnoitre. After 
proceeding about four leagues he caught sight of fifteen 
armed Indians, who were pursued and overtaken. A 
fight ensued, in which the natives, nerved by despair, 
fought so fiercely that two horses were killed, and 
three horses and two riders wounded. 24 Meanwhile a 

frequently absurd from the contradictions implied by other passages. Nor 
does he neglect to hold forth on his own people for their bravery and exploits in 
fighting the detested Aztecs, and their unswerving devotion to the Spaniards. 
Ii] the pursuit of this pleasing theme he scruples not to sacrifice truth when 
it proves a stumbling-block. He leaves the impression, for instance, that the 
Tlascaltecs never raised sword against Cortes. Many of the misstatements 
are due to a non-critical acceptance of tales, for Camargo was as simple and 
superstitious as any of his contemporaries. Although acting as interpreter 
in the province, Torquemada, i. 523, he exhibits a not very thorough acquaint- 
ance with Spanish, which is the cause of errors and repetitions. The con- 
quest forms but a portion of his narrative, which treats chiefly of aboriginal 
history and customs, and touches lightly the events that passed before his 
eyes. It was written in 1585, and lay for some time in the Felipe Neri convent 
archives, where it was consulted by Torquemada. Taken afterward by Panes 
to Spain, it was deposited by Miffioz with the Royal Academy of History at 
Madrid, from which source copies were obtained, among others one by Ternaux- 
Compans, and a faulty translation was published in the Nouvtlles Annates ties 
Voyages, xcviii.-ix. 

23 A short distance further they passed through a pine grove, wherein threads 
and papers were fixed and scattered across the path, the work of Tlascaltec 
sorcerers, who thus sought to cast a spell upon the invaders. Herrera, dec. ii. 
lib. vi. cap. iv. 

21 'Segun algunos que lo vieron, cortaron cercen de vn golpe cada pescueco 
con riendas y todo.' Gomara, Hist. Mcx., 71. 'lo viddi die cobattedosi vn di, 
diede vn Indiano vna cortellata a vn cauallo. . . .nel petto, che glielo aperse 
fin alle Iteriora, et cadde icotanete morto, &. . . .che vn'altro Indiano diede 
vn'altra cortellata a vn'altro cauallo su il collo che se lo getto morto.' Rela- 
tione per vn gentiVhuomo, in Ramuslo, Vicif/(/i, iii. 305. According to Duran 
two warriors stepped forth from a vast Tlascalan army before the regular 
battle, and issued a challenge, which was accepted by two horsemen. After a 
short combat the Indians, by deft movements, killed both horses, cutting off 
the neck of one, and wounding the other in the pasterns. Hist, hid., MS., ii. 
411-20; Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 255-G. This attack is the only resistance 
admitted by Camargo. The assailants were all Otomis, who killed one 
Spaniard and two horses. Hist. Tlax.. 146. 


force of Indians came up, estimated at from three to 
five thousand, and a horseman was at once sent back 
to hurry forward the infantry, while the rest boldly 
charged the enemy, riding through their ranks, and 
killing right and left without being injured them- 
selves. On the approach of the foot-soldiers, and the 
discharge of a volley, the natives retired with about 
sixty of their number slain. 25 Shortly afterward two 
of the Cempoalan messengers returned with some 
Tlascaltecs, who expressed their sorrow at the attack 
made by a tribe not belonging to their nation. They 
offered to pay for the horses killed, and invited the 
Spaniards in the name of the lords to proceed. The 
army advanced for a league into more open country, 
and camped among some abandoned farms, where dogs 
proved to be the only food left. Thus ended the first 
day in Tlascalan territory, the first of September, 
according to Bernal Diaz. 

In the morning the Spaniards met the two other 
messengers returning from their mission to Tlascala, 
who told a harrowing story of their seizure for the 
sacrificial stone, and of their escape by night. It 
is probable that their detention by the Tlascaltecs 
for messenger purposes had frightened them into 
believing that they were destined to be sacrificed, 
for envoys enjoyed the greatest respect among the 
Nahuas. 26 Shortly after a body of over one thou- 
sand warriors 27 appeared, to whom Cortes, in pres- 
ence of the notary Godoy, sent three prisoners, with 
a formal assurance of his friendly intentions. The 

25 'Hirieron a quatro de los nuestros, y pareceme que desde alii a pocos dias 
murio el vno de las heridas .... quedaron muertos hasta diez y siete dellos. ' 
Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 43; Cortes, Cartas, 61; Lorenzana calls the scene 
of this battle the plain of Quimichoccan. Viacje, p. viii. 

26 See Native Races, ii. 413; Soils, Hist. Mex., i. 230. According to Bernal 
Diaz the messengers are met before the Tlascalan border is readied, and they 
deliver the announcement that the Tlascaltecs will kill the Spaniards and 
eat their flesh, in order to test their reputed strength. The Cempoalans shall 
suffer the same fate, since they are assumed to be plotting in behalf of the 
Aztecs, loc. cit. Sahagun supposes that the Cempoalan guide had treacher- 
ously led the Spaniards against the Otomis. Conq. Mex. (ed. 1840), 40; 
Cfavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 42-3. 

27 Bernal Diaz says G000. 


only reply being showers of arrows, darts, and stones, 
Cortes gave the "Santiago, and at them!" and 
charged. The enemy retreated with the face to 
their pursuers, enticing them toward some broken 
ground intersected by a creek, where they found 
themselves surrounded by a large force, some bearing 
the red and white devices of Xicotencatl. Missiles 
were showered, while double-pointed spears, swords, 
and clubs pressed closely upon them, wielded by 
bolder warriors than those whom the Spaniards had 
hitherto subdued. Many were the hearts that 
quaked, and many expected that their last moment 
had come; " for we certainly were in greater peril 
than ever before," says Bernal Diaz. "None of us 
will escape!" exclaimed Teuch, the Cempoalan chief, 
but Marina who stood by replied with fearless confi- 
dence: "The mighty God of the Christians, who 
loves them well, will let no harm befall them." 28 The 
commander rode back and forth cheering the men, 
and giving orders to press onward, and to keep well 
together. Fortunately the pass was not long, and 
soon the Spaniards emerged into an open field, where 
the greater part of the enemy awaited them, estimated 
in all, by different authorities, at from thirty thousand 
to one hundred thousand. 29 

How long was this to continue, each new armed 
host being tenfold greater than the last? Yet once 
again the Spaniards whet their swords, and prepare 
for instant attack, as determined to fight it out to 
the death, as Leonidas and his brave Spartans at 
the pass of Thermopylae. The cavalry charged with 
loose reins, and lances fixed on a range with the 
heads of the enemy, opening a way through the dense 
columns and spreading a confusion which served the 

28 Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. v. A pious conquistador who was present, 
says Duran, told me that many wept, wishing they had never been born, and 
cursing the marquis for having led them into such danger. Hist. Intl., MS., 
ii. 417. 

29 Tapia gives the higher and Herrera the lower figure, while Ixtlilxochitl 
makes it 80,000. 


infantry well. Bernal Diaz relates how a body of 
natives, determined to obtain possession of a horse, 
surrounded an excellent rider named Pedro de Moron, 
who was mounted upon Sedeno's fine racing mare, 
dragged him from the saddle, and thrust their swords 
and spears through the animal in all directions. 
Moron would have been carried off but for the in- 
fantry coming to his rescue. In the struggle which 
ensued ten Spaniards were wounded, while four chiefs 
bit the dust. Moron was saved only to die on the 
second day, but the mare was secured by the natives 
and cut into pieces, which were sent all over the 
state to afford opportunity for triumphal celebrations. 
The loss was greatly regretted, since it would divest 
the horses of their terrifying character. Those pre- 
viously killed had been secretly buried. The battle 
continued until late in the afternoon, without enabling 
the Indians to make any further impression on the 
Spanish ranks than inflicting a few wounds, while 
their own were rapidly thinning under the charges of 
the cavalry and the volleys of artillery and firelocks. 
The slaughter had been particularly heavy among 
the chiefs, and this was the main reason for the re- 
treat which the enemy now began, in good order. 30 
Their actual loss could not be ascertained, for with 
humane devotion the wounded and dead were carried 
off the moment they were stricken; and in this con- 
stant self-sacrificing effort the Tlascaltecs lost many 
lives and advantages. Robertson regards with sus- 
picion the accounts of the great battles fought during 
the conquest, wherein Indians fell by the score while 

30 During the battle one of the late Cempoalan envoys recognized the cap- 
tain who had bound him for sacrifice, and with CorteV permission he sent him 
a challenge. The duel was held in front of the armies, and after a tough 
struggle the Cempoalan, with a feint, threw his opponent off guard, and 
secured his head, which served as a centre-piece during the Cempoalan vic- 
tory celebration. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. vi. This author also relates 
that one of the final acts of the battle was the capture by Ordaz, with 60 men, 
of a pass. 'Les matamos muchos Indios, y entre ellos ocho Capitanes muy 
principales, hijos de los viejos Caciques.' Five horses were wounded and fifteen 
soldiers, of whom one died. The other chronicles admit of no dead. Bernal 
Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 44. 


the Spaniards stood almost unscathed, and Wilson 
ridicules the whole campaign, reducing the Tlascalan 
population, for instance, to about ten thousand, with 
a fiofhtinof force of less than one thousand men. Such 
remarks certainly show a want of familiarity with 
the subject. 31 We have often seen, in the New World 
wars, a thousand naked Americans put to flight by 
ten steel-clad Europeans, and I have cleariy given 
the reasons. When we look at the Indians, with their 
comparatively poor weapons, their unprotected bodies, 
their inefficient discipline and tactics, whereby only a 
small portion of their force could be made available, 
the other portion serving rather as an obstruction, 
their custom of carrying off the dead, and other weak 
points, and when we contrast them with the well 

31 Robertson, Hist. Am., ii. 38-9; Wilson's Conq. Mex., 360-70; Bmzoni, 
Hist. Mondo Nvovo, 51. It is seldom that I encounter a book which I am 
forced to regard as beneath censure. He who prints and pays the printer 
generally has something to say, and generally believes something of what he 
says to be true. An idiot may have honest convictions, and a knave may 
have talents, but where a book carries to the mind of the reader that its 
author is both fool and knave, that is, that he writes only foolishness and doe3 
not himself believe what he says, I have not the time to waste in condemning 
such a work. And yet here is a volume purporting to be A New History 
of the Conquest of Mexico, written by Robert Anderson Wilson, and bearing 
date Philadelphia, 1859, which one would think a writer on the same subject 
should at least mention. The many and magnificent monuments which to the 
present day attest the great number and high culture of the Nahua race, and 
the testimony to this effect offered by witnesses on all sides, are ignored by 
him with a contempt that becomes amusing as the pages reveal his lack of 
investigation and culture. Indeed, the reader need go no further than the 
introduction to be convinced on the latter point. Another amusing feature is 
that the work pretends to vindicate the assertions of Las Casas, who, in truth, 
extols more than other Spanish author the vast number and advanced culture 
of the natives. In addition to this mistaken assumption, which takes away 
hi3 main support, he states that Prescott worked in ignorance of his subject 
and his authorities, and to prove the assertion he produces wrongly applied or 
distorted quotations from different authors, or assumes meanings that were 
never intended, and draws erroneous conclusions. Thus it is he proves to his 
own satisfaction that Mexico City was but a village occupied by savages of the 
Iroquois stamp, and that Cortes was the boastful victor over little bands of 
naked red men. As for the ruins, they were founded by Phoenician colonists 
in remote ages. Another tissue of superficial observations, shaped by bigotry 
and credulous ignorance, was issued by the same author under the title of 
Mexico and its Religion, New York, 1855, most enterprisingly reprinted in 
the disguise of Mexico: its Peasants and its Priests, New York, 1856. In 
common with Mr Morgan, and others of that stamp, Mr Wilson seems to 
have deemed it incumbent on him to traduce Mr Prescott and his work, 
apparently with the view of thereby attracting attention to himself. Such 
men are not worthy to touch the hem of Mr Prescott's garment; they are 
not worthy of mention in the same category with him. 


armored Spaniards, with their superior swords and 
lances, their well calculated movements, and their con- 
certed action carried out under strict and practised 
officers, and above all their terror-inspiring and rav- 
aging fire-arms and horses — how can we doubt that 
the latter must have readily been able to overcome 
vast numbers of native warriors ? It was soon so 
understood in Europe. For once when Cortes was 
in Spain he scoffed at certain of his countrymen 
for having fled before a superior force of Moors, 
whereupon one remarked: "This fellow regards our 
opponents like his, of whom ten horsemen can put 
to flight twenty -five thousand." In the retreat of 
the Ten Thousand, who under Cyrus had invaded 
Persia, we have an example of the inadequacy of 
numbers against discipline. Though for every Greek 
the Persians could bring a hundred men, yet the 
effeminate Asiatic absolutely refused to meet the 
hardy European in open conflict. -ZEschylus was 
inspired by personal experience in his play of the 
Persians when he makes the gods intimate to the 
wondering Atossa, the queen-mother, that free Athe- 
nians, un whipped to battle, could cope successfully 
with the myriads of despotic Xerxes. The poor 
Americans had yet to learn their own weakness, and 
to pay dearly for the knowledge. 

"It well seems that God was he who fought for us 
to enable us to get free from such a multitude," says 
Cortes. He attempted no pursuit, but hastened to 
take possession of Tecohuatzinco, a small town on the 
hill of Tzompachtepetl, 32 where they fortified them- 
selves upon the temple pyramid, and proceeded to 
celebrate the victory with songs and dances, a per- 
formance wherein the allies took the leading part. 

S2 Lorenzana, Viage, ix., wherein the appearance of the hill is described 
as the bishop saw it. Txtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 292; Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 
146. Other authors differ. ' Teoatzinco, cioe il luogo dell'acqua divina.' 
Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 44. Duran assumes that the battle was for the 
possession of this place, which he calls Tecoac. Hist. I rid., MS., ii. 418,422; 
Tezozomoc, Hist. Mex., ii. 256. 'Aldea de pocas casas, que tenia vna torrezilla 
y teplo. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 74. 


The following day 33 Cortes sallied forth with the 
horses, one hundred infantry, and seven hundred 
allies, partly to forage before the enemy appeared, 
but also to inflict some damage, and to show that 
they were as fresh as ever. "I burned five or six 
small villages," he says, "each of about one hundred 
families, and returned with four hundred prisoners." 34 
After being consoled with food and beads, the cap- 
tives, including fifteen taken during the late battle, 
were despatched to the camp of Xicotencatl, two 
leagues off, with a letter to serve as credentials, and 
a message assuring him of the friendly intentions of 
the Spaniards, although they had been obliged to 
resort to severe measures. By no means impressed 
either with his defeat or with the assurances, Xico- 
tencatl replied that peace would be celebrated at his 
father's town with a feast on the Spaniards' flesh, 
while their hearts and blood were deliffhtino- the 
gods. They would receive a more decisive answer 
on the morrow. With this defiant message came the 
report that the Tlascalan army, largely reinforced, 
was preparing to march on and overwhelm them. 
"When we learned this," says Bernal Diaz, "being 
men, we feared death, many of us; and all made con- 
fession to the Merced father, and the clergyman Juan 
Diaz, who all night remained present to listen to 
the penitent; and we commended ourselves to God, 
praying that we might not be conquered." Cortes 
applied himself energetically to supervise preparations 
and give the enemy a welcome. A fresh supply of 
arrows, and of Indian shields of plaited cane and 
cotton, were made, and the arms and accoutrements 
inspected. He impressed upon the soldiers the neces- 
sity of keeping close together, round the banner to 
be carried well aloft by Alferez Corral, in order that 
they might not be cut off. As for the cavalry they 

33 So Cortes distinctly says. Bernal Diaz writes, however, that this day 
was devoted to rest. Still, a later observation indicates that Cortes is right. 

il Id. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 44, admits only twenty captives, and 
blames the allies for firing the villages; but Cortes is frank enough about it. 


were to make repeated charges, without losing time 
in delivering thrusts. 

Early in the morning of September 5th the Indian 
army could be seen extending far over the field, 
terrible in war-paint, plumed helmets, and gaudy 
shields, with their double-edged flint swords and 
many-pointed lances gleaming in the sun, while the 
air resounded with shrill yells, mingling with the 
melancholy tones of their drums and the doleful 
blasts of conchs and trumpets. 35 It was the largest 
and finest army yet seen by the Spaniards, numbering, 
according to Gomara, one hundred and fifty thousand 
men, but according to Bernal Diaz only fifty thousand, 30 
in four divisions, representing Tizatlan, Ocotelulco, 
Quiahuiztlan, and Tepeticpac, each distinguished by its 
own banner and colors, the latter noticeable also in the 
war- paint of the common soldier and in the quilted 
armor of the officers. Far in the rear, indicative 
of hostile sentiment, rose the standard of the state, 
bearing a bird with wings extended. 37 Gomara relates 
that, confident of success, the Tlascaltecs sent mes- 
sengers to the camp with three hundred turkey-cocks 
and two hundred baskets of tamales, each of one 
hundred arrobas, so that they might not be taunted 
with having fought starved men, or having offered 
such to the idols. 

But this story, adopted by Herrera, Clavigero, 
Robertson, and nearly every other writer, implies a 
generosity altogether too impolitic for an enemy who 
had already suffered two severe defeats. It is probable, 
however, that Xicotencatl may have sent small pres- 

35 Prescott, Mex. , 438-42, gives a pretty description of the army, but is so 
carried away that he dons it with helmets glittering with gold and precious 
stones, etc. ; and this in spite of the efforts of the chroniclers to exhibit the 
Tlascaltecs as very poor in anything but rude comforts. 

36 Under five captains, to whom he applies the names of the four lords, as 
he understands them, and of the ruler of Huexotzinco. Hist. Verdad., 45; 
Gomara, Hist. Mex., 75. 149,000 men, says Cortes, in his second letter, 62, 
but this exactness is probably due to a printer's mistake. 

37 For colors and banners, and how carried, see Native Races; ii. 411-12, 
and To?-quemada, i. 436. 


ents of food in order to obtain an opportunity for his 
spies to examine the camp. 38 

The Indians advanced in several columns up the 
sides of the hill, and, despite the resistance offered, 
pressed onward into the very camp, but were soon 
obliged to yield before murderous bullets and cutting 
blades. Cortes allowed the Indians to become tired 
and discouraged with repeated charges, and then with 
a ringing "Santiago!" the Spaniards, followed by the 
allies, sallied forth, 39 driving them in confusion to the 
plain, where the cavalry followed up the advantage, 
leaving bloody paths in all directions. Checked and 
reinforced by the reserve, the enemy turned with 
fresh courage on their pursuers. The shock was over- 
whelming. The tired Castilians yielded; their ranks 
were broken, and all seemed lost. Even Cortes was 
seized with a terrible misgiving, but it was only for 
a moment. Leading the cavalry to the' rescue, he 
raised his voice above the din of battle, and called 
on all to rally. Nerved by his words and deeds, the 
men plied lustily their swords, and, driving back the 
enemy, formed anew. "So ably and valiantly fought 
the horsemen," writes Bernal Diaz, "that next to 
God who protected us, they proved our strength." 
Following up their advantage, the Spaniards hewed 
down the enemy in great numbers. 

Victory might yet have turned against them but 
for a quarrel between Xicotencatl and another cap- 

38 He was detected in this trick afterward. ' Lo qual fue gran refrigerio 
y socorro para la necesidad que tenian.' Oomara, Hist. Mex., 76. Oviedo 
increases the gift to 700 baskets, iii. 495. Gomara proceeds to relate that in 
sign of contempt for the small number of the enemy, whom it could be no 
honor for his large army to overcome, Xicotencatl detached 2000 warriors — 
200 says Oviedo — to seize and bring him the strangers bound. They at- 
fcacked, and were routed with an almost total destruction of their number. 
' Xo escapo hombre dellos, sino los q acertaron el passo de la barranca. ' loc. 
cit. 76. 

3 ' J licrnal Diaz states that they did not wait for the enemy to attack, but 
marched forth and met them one eighth of a league from camp. J list. I r erdad., 
45. But Cortes says distinctly, 'Otro dia en amaneciendo dan sobre nuestro 
real mas de ciento y cuarenta y nueve mil hombres. ' Cartas, 62. Gomasa and 
Herrera also allow Indians to attack the camp first. Cortes is too fond of 
announcing when he takes the initiative to have failed to say so had he done 
it in this case. 

IIist. Mex., Vol. I. 14 


tain, 40 one accusing the other of mismanaging the late 
battle. The latter not only challenged the other, it 
seems, but withdrew his troops, and induced another 
division to follow him. 41 Thus left with only half his 
army, and that shattered and discouraged, Xicotencatl 
retired before the handful on whom his every effort 
seemed to have made no impression. He retreated 
in good order, carrying off most of the dead, for the 
opponents were too exhausted to pursue. Indeed, all 
the horses were wounded, and fully sixty men, of 
whom it appears several must have died soon after, 
though Cortes admits of no dead, and Bernal Diaz 
of only one.' 


40 ' Son of Chichimeclatecle, ' says Bernal Diaz, a name which should read 

41 That of Guaxolcingo — meaning Huexotzinco. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vcr- 
dad., 45. That of Tlelmexolotzin. Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 46. Solis ex- 
aggerates this into an actual battle between the leaders and their followers. 
Hist. Mex., i. 255-8. Herrera intimates that a secret arrangement had been 
formed between Cortes and the seceding captain, the latter appearing with 
his officers at the camp, the evening after the previous battle, and, declaring 
himself convinced that the Spaniards were invincible, offered not only to 
remain neutral, but to aid them in entering Tlascala. Cortes agreed. When 
the captain returned to Xicotencatl's camp he was so badly beaten that he 
came back to Cortes for medical treatment. Certain signs were to be worn, so 
that the Spaniards might respect the neutral troops, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. vi. 
He also relates that one Tlascaltec maintained himself so long and bravely 
against two Spanish soldiers that Lares, the smith, rushed up, cried shame 
upon the twain, and lanced the warrior. Id. , cap. vii. 

42 This soldier himself received two wounds, which did not prevent him from 
fighting, however. ' Nos mataron vn soldado,' he says, and a few lines further 
down, ' y enterramos los muertos. . . .porque no viessen los Indios que eramos 
mortales. ' Hist. Verdad. , 45. Thus even the ' True Historian ' reveals the com- 
mon weakness. Hazart, Kirchen-Geschichte, ii. 512-14; West-Indische Spieghel, 
224-35; Franck, Weltbuch, ccxxix. 



September, 1519. 

Native Chiefs Sent as Envoys to the Tlascalan Capital — Their Favor- 
able Reception — Xicotencatl Plans Resistance to Cortes — Sends 
out Spies — Cortes Sends them back Mutilated — The Spaniards 
Attack and Defeat Xicotencatl — Night Encounters — General 
Dissatisfaction and a Desire to Return to Villa Rica — Envoys 
Arrive from Montezuma — Cortes Receives Xicotencatl and the 
Tlascalan Lords — Peace Concluded — Tlascala — Festivities and 
Rejoicings — Mass Celebrated — Cortes Inclined to Extreme Re- 
ligious Zeal — Brides Presented to the Spaniards — Appropriate 
Ceremonies — Preparing to Leave Tlascala for Cholula — Com- 

In the late battle . three chiefs had been captured,, 
and they together with two others were sent, this 
time to the Tlascalan capital direct, to carry an offer 
of peace, and to explain that the Spaniards would 
not have harmed their warriors had they not been 
obliged to do so. If peace was still declined they 
would come and destroy them all. Meanwhile Cortes 
set out on another foraging and raiding expedition, 
and " burned more than ten towns, one exceeding 
three thousand houses," retiring by the early after- 
noon, when the Indians began to gather in aid of the 
raided neighbors. 1 

Tired of the fruitless fi^htinof, attended with loss 
of life and property only to themselves as it ap- 
peared, the peace party in Tlascala had been gaining 
the ascendancy, with the efforts of Maxixcatzin, sup- 

1 Cortes, Cartas, 62-3. According to Gomara the Indians pursued to the 
very camp, where they were defeated with great slaughter, after five hours' 
fighting. Hist. Mex. s 76-7. 



ported as he now was by the powerful factions which 
had quarrelled with the general. When the peace 
messengers of Cortes arrived they were therefore 
received with favor. His previous friendly offers 
were considered, also his kind treatment of captives, 
so unusual with the natives, and the oracles and signs 
of a coming race of rulers. Whether gods or men, 
they were evidently invincible, and the friendship 
and alliance held out by them must be desirable, and 
ought to be secured before the strangers, embittered 
by further resistance, should pass on to join their 
enemies. An embassy, headed by Costomatl and 
Tolinpanecatl, 2 was accordingly despatched with pro- 
visions and some other trifling gifts to open negotia- 
tions for peace. Humbly these men appeared before 
Cortes, expressing the sorrow of the lords for the 
hostility shown, and their desire for peace. With a 
grave reproval for their obstinacy, Cortes said that 
he would admit their apology, and the envoys de- 
parted, after leaving beside the other gifts a number 
of male and female slaves. 3 

Smarting under the disgrace of his defeats, Xico- 
tencatl had meanwhile been laying plans to retrieve 
himself. Among other counsellors he had summoned 
diviners to his aid, and they, calling to mind the 
assumption that the Spaniards were children of the 
sun, declared that as such the new-comers were in- 
vincible only when animated by its beams, and at 
night, when deprived of this invigorating power, they 
became mortals, who must bow to superior force. 
Knowing the strength of the party opposed to him 
in the Tlascalan capital, he does not appear to have 
submitted his projects there, but to have ventured 
upon detaining the envoys as they were returning 

2 Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 146. Duran gives a short speech, delivered in the 
council-chamber. Hist. Inch, MS., ii. 422-3. 

3 Cortes places the arrival of this embassy on the day following the 
raiding of the ten towns, Cartas, 63; but Bernal Diaz at a later date. He 
makes the envoys four in number, and allows them, in returning, to instruct 
the neighboring settlements to furnish supplies to the Spaniards, all of which 
Xicotencatl prevents. Hist. Verdad., 47-8, 50, 55. 


from the Spanish camp until the result of his plans 
should have been ascertained; and this in face of the 
command to desist from hostility. 4 In order to make 
everything as sure as possible for the intended blow, 
Xicotencatl sent fifty Indians to the camp, with in- 
structions to gather information concerning the ap- 
proaches, the condition of the soldiers, and other 
points. They appeared before Cortes with the usual 
demonstrations of respect, and, placing before him 
five female slaves, a quantity of food, and other pres- 
ents, they said : " Lord, behold these slaves ! If you are 
fierce gods, eat their flesh and blood, and more shall 
be brought; if gentle gods, take these feathers and 
incense; if men, here are fowl, bread, and fruit." 
Cortes answered that they required no sacrifices of 
men. Had they desired such they could have taken 
by force all the victims needed. He rebuked their ob- 
stinacy and advised submission. 5 They were then taken 
aside to receive the hospitalities of the camp, after 
which they dispersed to satisfy their curiosity, and to 
question the allies. This aroused the suspicions of 
Teuch, the Cempoalan chief, who warned the general. 
Seizing the men he examined them singly, and soon 
ascertained that their object was not only to spy, 
but to fire the huts, and otherwise to aid the attack 
which would be made upon the camp that very night. 
Finding that his friendly advances had been scorned, 
Cortes resolved to inflict a lesson that would be 

4 Bernal Diaz assumes that the lords consult the diviners, and allow a night 
attack to be made; but then he describes two night attacks, while Cortes and 
others distinctly allow only one, and he forgets his former admission that, 
in addition to the peace party, half the army had actually abandoned Xico- 
tencatl. It is after this first night attack, ignored by other writers, that the 
senate send in their submission, and order Xicotencatl to desist from hostilities. 
He refuses to obey, and detains the envoys on their way to the Spaniards, 
whereupon his officers are ordered to desert him. Finally he repents and is 
forgiven. Hist. Verdad., 4G-7. The detention of the envoys must be placed 
on their return from the Spanish camp, for Cortes distinctly states that the 
peace proposals from the lords arrived before the night attack. 

According to Gomara, Cortes announces that his men are mortal like 
themselves, which is not very likely. J list. Mex., 77. Bernal Diaz calls the 
slaves four old hags, and allows the Indians to act in rather an insulting 
manner, and without tendering the usual courtesies, which is also unlikely, 
when we consider that they had an object to gain. Hist. Verdad., 49. 


understood by a people so deeply intent upon war and 
sacrifices. This was to cut off the hands of the leading 
spies, and the thumbs of others, and to send them 
back with the message that this would be the punish- 
ment of spies, and that the Spaniards were prepared, 
night or day, to face their enemies. 6 

Fearing the confusion and danger of a night at- 
tack, when the artillery and other means would be 
less effective, Cortes resolved to anticipate the enemy 
by a counter charge, wherein the cavalry might 
render particular service. Learning that Xicotencatl 
was hidden with ten thousand or twenty thousand 
men behind a hill not far off, Cortes did not despatch 
the mutilated spies till after dusk, in order to let him 
approach nearer to camp. 7 When his messengers re- 
turned to Xicotencatl and displayed their bleeding 
stumps, the general was troubled, and throughout his 
army there was consternation, and numbers of war- 
riors declared openly that it was useless to fight men 
who not only appeared to be invincible, but who could 
read their very intentions. While in this state of 

6 ' Los mande" tomar a todos cincuenta y cortarles las manos,' says Cortes, 
Cartas, 63 ; but the phrase may be loose, for Bernal Diaz specifies only seven- 
teen as sent back with hands or thumbs cut off. Hist. Verdad. , 49. ' El 
marques les hizo a algunos de ellos contar (sic pro cortar) las manos. ' Tapia, Rel. , 
in leazbalceta, Col. Doc. , ii. 570. ' Mand5 cortar las manos a siete dellos, y a 
algunos los dedos pulgares muy contra su voluntad.' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. 
cap. viii. Gomara places this occurrence on the 6th of September, but it is 
most likely later, and makes the spies a different party from those bringing 
the slaves and feathers, who arrive on the preceding day. Hist. Mex., 77-8. 
Bernal Diaz accounts for this difference by stating that the party had been in 
camp since the previous day. Robertson reverses the order by assuming that 
mutilation of the spies so perplexes the Indians that they send the men with 
the slaves and feathers to ask whether they are fierce or gentle gods, or men. 
He does not understand why so many as 50 spies should have been sent, but 
had he read CorteV letter more closely, he would have divined the reason, 
that they intended to fire the camp, and otherwise aid in the attack. He 
stigmatizes as barbarous the mutilation, Hist. Am., ii. 42, 451, but forgets, in 
doing so, that the Spanish conquerors belonged to an age when such deeds 
were little thought of. Spies even now suffer death, and the above punish- 
ment may therefore be regarded as comparatively lenient, particularly by a 
people who daily tore out the heart from living victims. The mutinous pilot 
of Villa Rica had his life spared, but lost his feet. Cortes, as the captain of 
a smaii band, was obliged to conform to his age and surroundings in the 
measures taken for its safety. 

7 ' En yendo se las espias, vieron de nuestro real como atrauessaua por vn 
cerro grandissima muchedumbre de gente, y era la que traya Xicotencatl. 
Gomara, Hist. Mex., 79. 


demoralization they were startled by the jingling 
of bells and the tramp of the dreaded horses, magni- 
fied by their fears and by the weird moonlight into a 
host. The next moment the Spaniards announced 
their presence by a ringing " Santiago!" and, unde- 
terred by the few stray and feeble volleys of stones and 
arrows sent against them, they rode into the crowds 
of natives already in full flight, slashing and riding 
down in all directions. 8 

After this lesson Xicotencatl appears to have 
made no further attempts to molest the Spaniards, 
although small skirmishing parties, chiefly Otomis, 
continued to hover round the camp and give the 
soldiers opportunities for sallies. Gomara magnifies 
these skirmishes into daily attacks on the camp by 
the army, whose divisions take turns so as not to 
embarrass one another. This caused them to fight 
better, partly from a spirit of rivalry to surpass the 
preceding record. The ambition of the natives was 
to kill one Spaniard at least, but the object was 
never attained, so far- as they knew. This continued 
for a fortnight, and daily came also messengers with 
food to sustain the strangers. 9 

8 Cortes, Cartas, 63-4; Gomara, Hist. Mcx., 78-9; Tapla, Rel., in Icaz- 
balccta, Col. Doc, ii. 569; Hen-era, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. viii. Bernal Diaz de- 
scribes a night attack with 10,000 warriors, made a few days before, in which 
the Spaniards drive back the Indians and pursue them, capturing four, while 
the morning revealed twenty corpses still upon the plain. Two of the diviners 
appear to have been sacrificed for their bad advice. He now reappears with 
20,000 men, but on meeting the mutilated spies he becomes disheartened, and 
turns back without attempting a blow. Hist. Verdad., 46, 49-50. He is the 
only authority for two night expeditions. Having already been defeated in 
one night attack, Xicotencatl would be less likely to attempt a second, particu- 
larly since nocturnal movements were contrary to Indian modes of warfare. 
Cortes distinctly intimates that the present occasion was the first attempt at a 
night raid. Ixtlilxockitl, Hist. Chick., 291. 

9 He begins to suspect that their object may also have been to spy. Cortes 
was suffering from fever at this time, and one night he took pills, a course 
which among the Spaniards involved the strictest care and seclusion from 
affairs. Early in the morning three large bodies of Indians appeared, and 
regardless of his pills CortCs headed the troops, fighting all day. The follow- 
ing morning, strange to say, the medicine operated as if no second day had 
intervened. 'No lo cueto por milagro, sino por dezir lo que passo, y que 
Cortes era muy sufridor de trabajos y males.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 80. But 
Sandoval assumes 'que sin duda fue milagro.' Hist. Carlos V., i. 173. Solis 
applies this story to the night attack, which seems plausible, and smiles phil- 


In order to further impress upon the Indians that 
fighting by night was quite congenial to the Span- 
iards, Cortes set out one midnight to raid and forage 
in the direction of a large town called Tzompant- 
zinco, which could be distinguished beyond a range 
of hills, toward the capital. 10 The soldiers had not 
gone far before one horse after another began to 
tremble and fall, including the general's. This was 
regarded a bad omen, and the men urged a re- 
turn, but Cortes laughed it off, sent back five horses, 
and proceeded with the rest, declaring that God, in 
whose cause they were engaged, was superior to 
nature. 11 Two small villages were surprised, with 
some slaughter, and shortly before dawn the Span- 
iards fell upon the large town, containing twenty 
thousand houses, it is said. Frightened out of their 
senses by the noise, the people rushed from the 
dwellings to join in the crowd which sought to 
elude the pursuers. Finding that no resistance was 
attempted, Cortes speedily stopped the attack, and 
collecting his men in the plaza he forbade any at- 
tempt on life or property. The chiefs and priests 
presently appeared with gifts of food and two female 
slaves, pleading that the proximity of Xicotencatl's 
army had prevented them from sending in their sub- 
mission. They would henceforth prove their gratitude 
for his leniency by sending supplies to the camp. 
Cortes accepted their excuses, and told them to pro- 

osophically at Sandoval's conclusion. Hist. Mex., i. 271; Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. 
Chich., 291; Clavigero, StoriaM<ss., iii. 47-8. ' Tenia calenturas, b tercianas.' 
Bemal Diaz, Hist. VerdacL, 47. Some place the story with the later capture 
of Tzompantzinco, where it is entirely out of place, , if indeed worth record- 
ing at all, for this expedition was a voluntary project, calling for no sick 
men to venture out. Duran relates that, tired of being besieged, Cortes one 
night made a sally in different directions. One party surprised all the native 
leaders together and asleep, and brought them to camp. In the morning they 
were sent back to the army, which had awakened to find them missing. In 
recognition of their kind treatment the chiefs raised the siege. This is told 
on the authority of an eye-witness, who evidently reserved his choicest stories 
for Padre Duran. Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 419-20. 

10 Bernal Diaz places it one league from the camp, and Tapia four leagues. 
Ixtlilxochitl calls it Tzimpantzinco ; others vary. 

11 Gomara, Hist. Mex., 80. Tapia allows the horses to overcome their 
attack and proceed. It appears to have been due to the cold night winds. 


ceecl to Tlascala to urge upon the lords the necessity 
for accepting peace. Before returning, Cortes as- 
cended a hill, and thence saw the capital, with its 
surrounding villages. " Behold," he said to those who 
had objected to his leniency with the towns, "what 
boots it to have killed these people, when so many 
enemies exist over there?" 12 

Although left in comparative peace for some days, 
the end of the campaign seemed to the Spaniards as 
remote as ever. The harass and hardship of their 
life, the vigils, the cold nights, the scanty supplies, 
the absence of salt, medicine, and many other neces- 
saries, all this was severely felt, particularly since 
so large a number were either sick or wounded, in- 
cluding Cortes and Padre Olmedo. 13 The ailments 
and wounds were as a rule slight, yet they helped 
to magnify dangers, and to dim every cheerful aspect. 
The very cessation of regular hostile demonstrations 

12 Gomara, Hist. Mex., 80-1. According to Herrera, Alcalde Mayor Grado 
counselled Cort6s, on seeing this populous country, to return to Villa Rica and 
send to Velazquez for aid. Deeply grieved at such advice, the general re- 
marked that the very stones would rise against them if they retreated, dec. 
ii. lib. vi. cap. viii. ; Cortes, Cartas, 64-5. Bernal Diaz places this raid before 
the final night attack. Hist. Verdacl., 47; Tapia, HeL, in Icazbalceta, Col. 
Doc, ii. 568-9. 

13 ' Nos vimos todos heridos a dos, y a, tres heridos, y muy cansados, y otros 
dolientes . . . . y faltauan ya sobre cincuenta y cinco soldados que se auian muerto 
en las batallas, y dolencias, y frios, y estauan dolientes otros doze. ' Bernal Diaz, 
46. Prescott, i. 458, is careless enough to accept this verbally, but the run of 
the text here and elsewhere indicates that the sentence is rather figurative. 
The last four words, ' twelve others were on the sick-bed,' indicate that only 
three per cent, were laid low, and that the general health and condition must 
therefore have been tolerably good. This also indicates that the 55 missing 
soldiers could not have died since they left Vera Cruz, as certain writers as- 
sume. The only obstacles under which the soldiers could have succumbed 
in any number were the several battles with the Tlascaltecs, wherein the total 
number of the wounded nowhere foots up to more than 100. Of these 50 
per cent, could not have died, to judge from the warfare engaged in, and 
from the very few, a couple at the most, it is said, who fell on the field. Nor 
could diseases have killed many during a month's march through a fine and 
fertile country, for the passage of theCofre de Perotedidnot affect the Spaniards 
seriously. Hence it must be assumed that the 55 dead include the 35 who 
fell out of the ranks ere the army reached Villa Rica. This leaves, say, fifteen 
casualties for the present expedition since it left Villa Rica, and that appears 
to be a fair proportion. The only one who rightly interprets Bernal Diaz on 
this point appears to be Torquemada, who says, ' desde que salieron de Cuba, 
se avian muerto cinquenta y cinco Castellanos.' i. 428. The old soldier con- 
firms the interpretation by stating in more than one place that the Spaniards 
numbered 450, or nearly so, on entering Mexico City, ubi sup., 65, 109. 


seemed to cover a plot for a new Tlascalan combi- 
nation. If this people could exhibit such armies 
and such valor, what must be expected from the far 
more numerous and equally warlike Aztecs? These 
views owed not a little of their acceptance to the 
fears and exaggeration of the Indian allies, and 
through their medium the prospect of reaching the 
impregnable Mexico began to appear preposterous. 
Cortes was aware that this feeling existed among a 
large number, for in making his customary tour of the 
camp one evening he had overheard a party of soldiers 
express themselves pretty strongly about the madness 
of his enterprise. It would happen to him as to Pedro 
Carbonero, who ventured with his force among the 
Moors and w-as never heard of again. The general 
should be left to go alone. 

The murmurs in camp grew particularly strong 
during the raid on Tzompantzinco, promoted of course 
by Velazquez' men; and when Cortes returned, a 
deputation of seven, whom Bernal Diaz forbears to 
name, appeared before him to recommend that, in 
view of the suffering, the danger, and the dark pros- 
pects, they should return to Villa Rica, build a vessel, 
and send to Cuba for reinforcements. They were 
only tempting providence by their foolhardy course. 
Finding that arguments would be lost on these 
men, Cortes had caused his adherents to rally, and 
turning to them he recalled the determination formed 
at Villa Rica to advance on Mexico, and extolled their 
valorous deeds, which dimmed even the Greek and 
Roman records. He was suffering equally with them, 
yet he wavered not. Should they, the brave Spaniards, 
belie their character and country, and desert their 
duty to their king, to their God, who had protected 
them hitherto ? To retreat now would be to abandon 
the treasures to be found only a few leagues off, the 
reward for which they had striven during a whole 
year, and to draw upon themselves the contempt not 
only of their countrymen, who at present looked on 


them as the bravest of the brave, but that of the 
natives, who regarded them as gods. The Tlascaltecs 
had already sued for peace, but let the Spaniards 
take one step in retreat, and the enemy would turn 
with renewed ardor on them, joined by the Mexi- 
cans, so far held in check by their fame and deeds. 
Even the allies would for their own safety join to 
crush them. To retire was impossible, because it 
would be fatal. In any case, death was preferable 
to dishonor. The usual marks of approval which 
followed the speech silenced the deputation, and noth- 
ing more was heard about retreat. 14 

Great was the sensation in Mexico at the successive 
reports of easy Spanish victories over the stanch 
armies of Tlascala — victories by an insignificant 
band over armies which had successfully resisted the 
vast forces of the Anahuac allies. Since it was only 
too evident that force could not keep the strangers 
from reaching the capital, Montezuma again called 
his council to consider the situation. Cuitlahuatzin 
proposed that they should be bought off with pres- 
ents, while Cacama represented that their mission 
was probably harmless, and that they should be 
frankly invited to the city, there to be awed with the 
grandeur of the monarch. Others favored this course, 
but with the idea of laying traps for the strangers. 
The fear of their being warned and aided by Ixtlil- 
xochitl, the rebellious brother of Cacama, caused 
Montezuma to incline to the advice of Cuitlahuatzin ; 
and six prominent lords, headed by Atempanecatl, 


14 Gomara gives a long speech, and intimates that it was delivered before 
a regular meeting. Hist. Mex., 81-3; Cortes, Cartas, 65; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. 
vi. cap. ix.; Torquernada, i. 428-9; Tapia, Eel., in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc., ii. 
571. Bernal Diaz addresses the speech to the committee, and states that 
Cort6s, on finding them still unconvinced, abandoned the gentle tone he had 
used, and exclaimed with some asperity that it was better to die like brave 
men than to live dishonored. The men being appealed to upheld him, and 
declared that they would listen to no contrary talk. Hist. Verdad., 48-9; 
Soils, Hist. Mex., i. 259-63. 

lj Surnamed Tlachpanquizqin, it seems. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 292; 
Veylia, Hut. Ant. Mej., iii. 380. Bernal Diaz calls them five leading men. 


were accordingly despatched to the Spanish camp 
to congratulate the white chieftain on his victories, 
and to offer annual tribute in gold, silver, jewels, 
cloth — in fact, to do almost anything that his king 
might desire, on the condition that he should not 
proceed to Mexico. The envoys entered the pres- 
ence of Cortes followed by two hundred attendants, 
and laying before him a present of twenty bales of 
embroidered cloth and feathers, and about one thou- 
sand castellanos in gold-dust, they delivered their 
message. 10 They explained that their monarch would 
gladly see him in Mexico, but feared to expose the 
Spaniards to the hardships of the rough and sterile 
country wherein Mexico was situated. Cortes ex- 
pressed his thanks, and said that he would consider 
the proposal. 17 

While entertaining the Mexican envoys the camp 
was stirred by the announcement of the Tlascalan 
plenipotentiaries, consisting of fifty leading men, 
headed by Axayacatzin Xicotencatl himself. 18 The 
soldiers crowded forward to gaze at the dreaded gen- 
eral, who appeared to be a man of about thirty-five 
vears, tall and broad-shouldered, well formed and 
robust, with broad, rough face, grave in manner and 
commanding in presence, though he came a suppliant. 
He had used every means as a noble patriot to save 

16 Nearly every writer states that Montezuma acknowledged himself the 
vassal of the Spanish king, but it is doubtful whether he stooped so low before 
a distant enemy. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 79, calls the present 1000 ropas and 
1000 castellanos de oro, and CortCs says pesos de oro, which doubtless means 
dust; but Bernal Diaz terms the latter gold jewels worth that amount. 
Prescott confounds these presents with a later gift, and assumes without good 
authority that they came after Xicotencatl had brought in his submission. 
Gomara on the other hand places their arrival on September 6, which must 
be altogether too early. 

1T 'No les quiso dar luego la respuesta, porque estaua purgado del dia 
antes,' says Bernal Diaz, in explanation of the delay. Hist. Verdad., 51. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg, however, lets Cortes declare that the orders of his 
king oblige him to disregard the wishes of the emperor. But the general was 
too prudent to give an open rebuff ere he saw how affairs would develop. 
According to Gomara he wished to detain them to witness his prowess against 
the Tlascaltecs. Hist. Mex., 79; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. x. 

lh Ixtlilxochitl alone differs by stating that they were headed by Tolin- 
panecatl Tlacatecuhtli the younger brother of Xicotencatl; but he appears 


his country from the enslavement which he seemed 
with prophetic spirit to have foreseen; and as a brave 
soldier he had struggled to uphold the honor of the 
army. With pride subdued he had sought pardon of 
the lords for disobeying their orders, 19 and offered the 
best amends in his power by personally humbling 
himself before the chief who had torn the wreath 
from his brow. He approached Cortes with the cus- 
tomary profound salute, while his attendants swung 
the copal censer, arid announced that he had come in 
the name of his father and the other lords to ask his 
friendship, and to offer their submission to the might- 
iest of men, so gentle yet so valiant. Accepting a 
seat by Cortes' side, he entered into explanations, 
and frankly took upon himself the blame for the resist- 
ance offered, but pleaded the Tlascalan love for liberty, 
threatened, as they imagined, by an ally of Monte- 
zuma, for were not Mexican allies in the' Spanish 
train? and had not the Aztec monarch exchanged 
friendly intercourse with them? While delighted 
with the manner of the chief, and particularly with 
the object of his visit, Cortes thought it necessary to 
administer a slight rebuke for the obstinate refusal 
of his friendly offers ; yet since his people had already 
suffered enough for this, he freely pardoned them in 
the name of his king, and received them as vassals. 20 
He hoped the peace would be permanent; if not, 
he would be obliged to destroy the capital and mas- 
sacre the inhabitants. Xicotencatl assured him that 
the Tlascaltecs would henceforth be as faithful as 
they had hitherto been unfriendly. In proof of their 
sincerity the chiefs would remain with him as host- 
ages. He begged Cortes to come to the city, where 
the lords and nobles were awaiting him, and regretted 

19 Soils causes him to be dismissed from the office of captain -general. Hist. 
M'X., i. 272-3. In Curbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., ii. 154, is a portrait of him, 
corresponding fairly to the description. 

20 It is generally accepted that the Tlascaltecs submitted as vassals. Yet it 
is just as likely that they merely offered their friendship and alliance, a rela- 
tion which after the conquest was changed into vassalage. 


not being able to offer a present worthy of his ac- 
ceptance, but they were poor in treasures, even in 
cloth and salt, and what they once possessed had been 
surrendered to the Mexicans. 21 

Mass was said by Padre Diaz to celebrate the con- 
cluded peace, and in honor of the occasion Tecohuat- 
zinco received the name of Victoria. 22 Both Spaniards 
and allies concluded the day with feasting and appro- 
priate demonstrations of their delight. At Tlascala, 
where it was soon understood that the Spaniards were 
in some way to liberate the state from the tyranny 
of Montezuma, floral decorations and sacrifices gave 
eclat to the festivities, and twenty thousand leading 
men are said to have taken part in the mitote dance, 
singing to the prospective overthrow of the Mexicans 
and to the glory of the Spaniards. 

The Mexican envoys felt not a little chagrined at 
a peace which could bode no good to their nation. 
Before Cortes, however, they sought to ridicule the 
whole proceeding as a farce on the part of the Tlas- 
caltecs. The latter were too treacherous to be trusted. 
When the Spaniards were once in their city they would 
fall on them, and avenge the defeats and losses which 
till then must rankle in their hearts. Cortes told 
them that the Spaniards could not be overcome in 
town or field, by day or night. He intended going 
to Tlascala, and if the inhabitants proved treacherous 
they would be destroyed. Xicotencatl had been no 
less abusive of the Mexicans during his late interview, 
and Cortes, as he declares, enjoyed their dissension, 
sympathizing alternately with either party, in order to 
promote his own ends. 23 Finding the general so de- 

21 According to Bernal Diaz the Tlascaltecs gave but one present, and that 
at the capital, but some authors prefer to bring it in here. 'Le presento 
cantidad de alpargatas para el camino. ' Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich. , 292; He.rrmi, 
dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. x. ; Gomara, Hist. Max., 84-5; Cortes, Cartas, 66-7. 

22 Herrera, loc. cit. 

23 'Aun acord^me de una autoridad evangelica que dice: Omne regnum in 
seipsum divisum desolabitur ; y con los unos y con los otros maneaba.' Corf ft, 
Cartas, 70. According to Ixtlilxochitl quite a quarrel sprang up between the 
Mexican and Tlascalan representatives in the presence of Cortes,- attended by 
an exchange of epithets. Hist. Chich. , 292. 


termined, the envoys begged that he would remain 
at the camp for a few days while they communicated 
with the emperor. This was granted, partly because 
Cortes wished to await developments, not being at all 
sure of the Tlascaltecs, and partly because he and 
others needed a respite to recover from their wounds 
and fevers. 2 * 

The only result of the message to Mexico appears 
to have been an instruction to the envoys to use 
every effort to prevent the Spaniards from going 
either to Tlascala or to Mexico; and to make their 
representations more weighty a present was sent, con- 
sisting of ten pieces of wrought gold, worth over three 
thousand castellanos, says Bernal Diaz, and of several 
hundred pieces of cotton fabrics, richly embroidered. 25 
It served but as another magnet to aid in attracting 
the invaders. Cortes accepted the presents, but held 
out no hopes of changing his determination. 

The Tlascaltecs had meanwhile kept the camp 
liberally supplied with provisions, for which they 
would accept no recompense, and were daily urging 
Cortes to depart for Tlascala. Alarmed at his delay, 
the lords thought it best to go in person, accompanied 
by the leading nobles, to entreat him. 26 The last 

24 Cortes gives only his suspicions of the Tlascaltecs as a reason for the 
delay, without referring to any communication being sent to Mexico. Cartas, 
G7. Meanwhile he wrote to Escalante at Villa Rica, informing him of occur- 
rences, and asking for a supply of holy wafers and two bottles of wine, which 
speedily came. Bernal Diaz, J list. Verdad., 51. 

25 After an absence of six days, six leading men came from Mexico, who 
brought, beside the ten pieces of jewelry, 200 pieces of cloth. Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 52. The envoys who had been sent to Mexico came back on 
the sixth day with ten beautifully wrought jewels of gold and 1500 pieces of 
cloth, far richer than the former. Gomara, Hist. Me.x. , 85-6. 

26 ' Todos los sefiores me vinieron a rogar. ' Cortes, Cartas, 67. ' Vinieron 
assi mismo todas las cabeceras y sefiores de Tlaxcallan a rogarle. ' Gomara, 
J list. Mex., 86. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 52, names five lords, but the 
names are very confused, except Xicotencatl and Maxixcatzin, which approach 
nearer to the usual form. Ixtlilxochitl states that Cortes made it a condition 
that the lords should come and ask him, whereupon they each select two high 
representatives to proceed to the camp and escort him to Tlascala. They were 
guided by the envoys Tolinpanecatl and Costomatl, and brought a few jewels 
as presents. Hist. Chirk., 292-3. Nor docs Camargo allow the lords to go to 
the camp, but Costomatl and Tolinpanecatl are sent. Hist. Tlax., 146. 


envo}^ from Montezuma had just delivered his pres- 
ents when they were announced. Descending from 
their litters they advanced toward Cortes with the 
customary salute, 27 the lead being taken by Xico- 
tencatl, ruler of Tizatlan, so blind and old that he 
had to be supported by attendants, and by Maxix- 
catzin, of Ocotehilco, the youngest and wisest of the 
lords. 28 

Xicotencatl expressed his sorrow for their resist- 
ance, but reminded the Spanish chief that, this being 
forgiven, they had now come to invite him to their 
city, and to offer their possessions and services. He 
must not believe the slanderous insinuations which 
they feared the Mexicans had uttered. Cortes could 
not resist the evident sincerity of this appeal from so 
prominent a bod}^, and he hastened to assure them 
that preparations for the departure and other affairs 
had alone detained him. 29 

The lords accordingly returned to prepare for the 
reception, and to send five hundred carriers to assist 
in the march, which began the following morning. 
The Mexican envo}^s were invited to accompany the 
Spaniards, in order that they might witness the 
honors paid to them. The road to Tlascala, some six 
leagues in length, passed through a hilly yet well 
cultivated country, skirted on the east by the snow- 
crowned peak which was soon to bear the revered 
name of Malinche. In every direction were verdure- 
clad slopes spotted with huge oaks, while above and 
beyond the vista was closed by a dark green fringe of 

27 ' Tocaro las manos en el suelo, y besaron la tierra. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. 
Ve-dad,, 52. 

28 Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 155. Maxixcatzin is put forward by the Spanish 
writers as the principal lord, chiefly perhaps because he was the most devoted 
to the conquerors, but also because his quarter of Ocotelulco was the largest 
and richest. Camargo and Ixtlilxochitl place Xicotencatl first, and he 
certainly takes the lead in speaking and in receiving the Spaniards at his 
palace. His age, which Camargo raises into the hundred, may have had 
something to do with this, however. 

29 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 52, states that he pleaded the want of car- 
riers, which was not very plausible, unless intended as a hint at Tlascaltec 


the hardier fir, which seemed to rise like shielding 
bulwarks round the settlements in the valleys. The 
leading towns on the route were Tzompantzinco and 
Atlihuetzin, where the population turned out en masse 
to receive the Spaniards. 

A quarter of a league from the capital they were 
met by the lords and nobles, accompanied by a great 
retinue, attired in the colors of the different districts. 
Women of rank came forward with flowers in gar- 
lands and bouquets; and a long line of priests in 
flowing white robes, with cowls, and flowing hair 
clotted with blood from freshly slashed ears, marched 
along swinging their copal censers, while in the rear 
and around surged a crowd estimated at one hun- 
dred thousand persons. 

Before them rose the capital, prominently located 
upon four hills, " so great and so admirable," quoth 
Cortes, "that although I say but little of it, that 
little will appear incredible, for it is much larger than 
Granada and much stronger, with as good edifices 
and with much more people than Granada had at the 
time it was captured; also much better supplied with 
the things of the earth." 30 There were four distinct 
quarters, separated by high stone walls and traversed 
by narrow streets. In each stood a lordly palace 
for the ruler, and here and there rose temples and 
masonry buildings for the nobles, but the greater 
part of the dwellings were one-story adobe and mud 
huts. The highest quarter in situation was Tepet- 
icpac, the first settled, separated from Ocotelulco 
by the river Zahuatl. 31 The latter was not only 
the largest and most populous, but the richest, and 
held a daily market attended by thirty thousand 
people, it is claimed. 32 Quiahuiztlan lay below on 

30 Cortes, Cartas, 67. 

ai Now Atoyac. 

82 Cortes proceeds to give an account of articles sold here, which is on a 
par with his Granada comparison, and accords little with the declared sim- 
plicity or poverty of the people. In the temple over 800 persons had been 
sacrificed during some years. Peter Martyr, dec. v. cap. ii. 
Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 15 


the river, and above it Tizatlan, the residence of the 
blind chief. 33 

It was here that the Spaniards entered on Sep- 
tember 23d, 34 henceforth a feast-day to its people. 
Through streets adorned with festoons and arches, 
and past houses covered with cheering multitudes, 
they proceeded to the palace of Xicotencatl, who came 
forward to tender the customar}^ banquet. Cortes 
saluted him with the respect due to his age, 35 and was 
conducted to the banquet -hall, after which quarters 
were pointed out in the courts and buildings sur- 
rounding the temple. 36 Neat beds of matting and 
nequen cloth were spread for the troops. Close by 
were the quarters of the allies and the Mexican 

A round of invitations and festivities was tendered 
the guests in the several quarters; yet Cortes allowed 
no relaxation in the usual discipline and watches, 
greatly to the grief of the lords, who finally remon- 
strated against this apparent want of confidence. The 
Mexicans must have poisoned the mind of Malinche 
against them, they said. Malinche was becoming a 
recognized name for Cortes amonor the Indians. It 
seems strange that they should have fixed upon no 
higher sounding title for so great a leader than ' master 
of Marina,' as it implied, while the inferior Alvarado 
was dubbed Tonatiuh, 'the sun.' The Tlascaltecs 
had, however, another name for the general in Chal- 
chiuitl, the term for their favorite precious stones, and 
also a title of Quetzalcoatl, 'the white god.' 37 Cortes 

33 Gomara, Hist. Mex., 87-8; Herrera^ dec. ii. lib. vi. caps. v. xii. xiii. ; 
Carbajal Espinosa, Hist. Mex., ii. 162; Las Casas, Hist. Apo/og., MS., 13-14. 

3A Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 52. Gomara, followed by Herrera, says tlie 

35 ' Se quito la gorra y les hizo una mtiy grande y humilde reverencia. y 
luego abrazo a Xicotencatl, ' says Ixtlilxochitl, with an exactness which is 
doubtless intended to impress the ruder Spanish population of his day. Hi4. 
Chich. , 293. Camargo also describes ceremonies with some detail, Hist. Tlax. , 
147, and Duran, Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 425-7. 

36 Gomara, Hist. Mex., 86. Camargo and Ixtlilxochitl quarter the Span- 
iards in the palace. 'A las casas reales. ' Sahagun, Hist. Conq., 17. 

37 Camargo, Hist. Tlax., 150; Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 52. 


was quite touched by the fervor of the lords in their 
newly formed friendship. Untutored in some respects, 
they appeared to rush like children from one extreme 
to another — from obstinate enmity to profound devo- 
tion, now worshipping the doughty little band who 
had overcome their vast number, and admiring their 
every trait and act, willing to yield life itself for the 
heroic leader. He hastened to assure them of his 
confidence, and declined the hostages they offered, 
asserting that strict discipline was part of the military 
system which he was in duty bound to maintain. This 
seemed to convince the lords, and they even sought 
to introduce among their own troops some of the 
regulations which they learned to admire. 

The second day of their sojourn Pad re Diaz said mass 
in the presence of the two leading lords, who there- 
upon presented Cortes with half a dozen fishes made 
of gold, several curious stones, and some nequen cloth, 
altogether worth about twenty pesos, says Bernal 
Diaz. 38 Insignificant as was the gift, they expressed 
a hope that in view of their poverty he would accept 
it as a token of friendship. Cortes assured them that 
"he received it from their hand with greater pleasure 
than he would a house filled with gold dust from 
others." 39 In return he gave them some of the robes 
and other useful articles obtained from Montezuma, 
beside beads and trinkets. They now proposed, as a 
further proof of their good- will, to bestow on the cap- 
tains their daughters, in order to have for relatives men 
so good and brave. Cortes expressed himself pleased, 
but explained that this could not be admitted till the 
Tlascaltecs renounced idolatry and its attendant evils. 40 

38 Camargo calls it a rich present. 

89 Bernal Diaz, Hint. Verdad., 53. 

40 According to the somewhat mixed account of Bernal Diaz, Xicotencatl 
offers his daughter at once to Cort6s, who accepts, and thereupon urges Padre 
Olmedo to begin a raid against idolatry. The latter tells him to wait till the 
daughters are brought. They are introduced on the following day, five in 
number, and Xicotencatl joins the hands of the general with the one intended 
for him. He accepts her, but declares that she and her companions must 
remain with their parents till conversion is consummated. Finally the daughter 
is transferred to Alvarado. 


He thereupon proceeded to expound to them the doc- 
trines of his faith and contrast them with the impure, 
cruel, and bloody rites practised by them. This was 
ably interpreted by Marina and Aguilar, who were 
by this time expert in preaching, and the cross and 
virgin image were produced to illustrate the discourse. 
The lords answered that they believed the Christian's 
God must be good and powerful, since he was wor- 
shipped by such men, and they were willing to accord 
him a place by the side of their idols ; 41 but they could 
not renounce their own time-honored and benevolent 
deities. To do so would be to create an uprising 
among the people, and bring war and pestilence from 
the outraged gods. Cortes produced further argu- 
ments, only to be told that in time they would better 
understand the new doctrines, and might then yield, 
but at present their people would choose death rather 
than submit to such sacrilege. 

Finding that the religious zeal of Cortes threatened 
to overcome his prudence, Padre Olmedo hastened to 
interpose his counsel, representing the danger of losing 
all that their valor and perseverance had gained if 
they pressed so delicate a subject with a superstitious 
and warlike people as yet only half gained over. He 
had never approved of forcible conversion, and could 
see no advantage in removing idols from one temple 
w r hen they would be sure to rise in another. Indeed, 
persecution could only tend to root idolatry more 
deeply in the heart. It were better to let the true 
faith work its way into the appreciation of the people, 
as it would be sure to do if the natives were given an 
opportunity to contrast their bloody rites with the 
religion of Christ, provided the Spaniards w T ould them- 
selves follow the precepts of love and gentleness they 
w^ere commending' to the Indians. The success of the 
conquest owes much to Olmedo, whose heart, like 
Las Casas', warmed for the benighted Indians, to 
him w r ayward children who must be won by moder- 

41 A not uncommon practice in Mexico, carried out in the same manner as 
among the Romans. See Native Races, iii., passim. 


ation. Like a guardian angel he rose in defence of 
his flock, saving at the same time the Spaniards from 
their own passions. 42 Alvarado, Velazquez de Leon, 
and others, who had no desire to witness a repetition 
of the Ce'mpoalan iconoclasm, supported the father in 
his counsel, and Cortes agreed to content himself for 
the present with having an appropriate place set aside 
in the temple for an altar and a cross. 43 And upon 
this cross, say the credulous chroniclers, a white radiant 
cloud, in form of a whirling pillar, descended at night 
from the sky, impressing the natives with the sacred- 
ness of the symbol, and guarding it till the conquest 
had established the faith in the land. 44 The Spaniards 
succeeded further in abolishing human sacrifices, and 
the fattening-cages being torn down, a large number 
of intended victims sought refuge in their camp, laud- 
ing their doctrines and aiding not a little to pave the 
way for conversion. 45 

The inaugural mass for the new altar was followed 
by the baptism of the brides, the daughters and nieces 
of the lords being the first to undergo the ceremony. 

42 Portrait in Carbajal Esp'uiosa, Hist. Mex., ii. 165, and Zamacois, Hist. 
Mej., ii. 514. 

43 ' En aquel templo adonde estaua aposentado, se hiziesse vn capilla. ' Her- 
rera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. xv. A new temple near by was set aside for this. 
Bern" I Diaz, Hist. Ferdad., 54. 'Hizo la sala principal de Xicotencatl Ora- 
torio.' Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chick., 294. 'Hizo una iglesia en una casa de un 
idolo principal.' Tapia, Bel., in Irazbalceta, Col. Hoc, ii. 572-3. This author 
does not intimate that Corte\s sought to force conversion, Bernal Diaz alone 
being responsible for the statement, though Herrera adopts it. Eager to 
remove the reproach of infidelity from his people, Camargo relates that Cortes 
insisted on the renunciation of idolatry, and that the chiefs finally yielded, 
while placing upon him the responsibility of removing the images. When 
the iconoclasm began, the people hastened to hide their cherished idols, which 
they long worshipped in secret, although accepting baptism. Hist. Tiax., 150-8. 
In a hieroglyphic painting still possessed by the cabildo, says Ixtlilxochitl, it is 
shown that the lords were at this time baptized. He gives their new names. 
Hist. Chick., 294. 

41 'Dure tres, 6 quatro afios.' Bemesal, Hist. Chj/apa, 304; Ddvila, Teatro 
Ecb'S., i. 78; Camaryo, Hist. Tlax., 140; Herrera, dec.ii. lib. vi. cap. xv. Solis 
dwells upon the spiritual effect of the miracle, which occurred immediately 
after the departure from Tlascala. Hist. Mex. , i. 324-5. Torquemada devotes a 
whole chapter to it, and states that the first cross was raised by unseen hands 
the night after the arrival of the Spaniards in the city. The high-priest placed 
over it a guard, who was surprised by a celestial light which appeared at mid- 
night and drove out the demon from the temple, iii. 200-3. 

' 'Lo primero que mandaua nuestro Capitan era quebralles las tales car- 
celes, y echar fuera los prisioneros.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 55. 


Cortes pleading that he was already married, Tecuil- 
huatzin, the daughter of Xicotencatl, destined for him, 
was at his request given to Alvarado, his brother and 
captain as he proclaimed him, and blessed with the 
name of Luisa, while her sister Tolquequetzaltzin, 
baptized as Lucia, was conferred on the brother, 
Jor^e de Alvarado. Maxixcatzin's niece Zicuetzin, a 
jDretty girl, was named Elvira and given to Velazquez 
de Leon, it appears. Olid, Sandoval, Avila, and others 
also received distinguished brides with dowries. Cortes 
found it necessary, however, to decline accepting wives 
for the whole company, as the lords proposed. 46 In- 
deed, they urged him to settle among them, offering 
to give lands and to build houses for the whole party. 47 
Finding him determined to proceed to Mexico, they 
offered their cooperation, and gave an account of the 
wealth, power, and condition of the lake states, dwell- 
ing in particular on the magnificence of Montezuma. 
They did not omit a tirade against his tyranny, and 
stated that whenever he proposed to attack Tlascala 
no less than one hundred thousand men were placed in 
the field. It was because they were forewarned that 
their resistance was so successful, and because the 
Aztec troops, gathered as they were to a great extent 
from subject provinces, fought with less spirit. 48 

40 In order to obtain by them a race of heroes. Most writers, following 
Bernal Diaz and the less explicit chroniclers, allow Xicotencatl to give only 
one daughter, but Ixtlilxochitl names two, Hist. Chich., 294, and Juarros, in his 
biography of the Alvarados, enumerates their different wives, and among them 
the two sisters, with their full names and their descendants. Pedro de Alva- 
rado's only surviving issue, he says, was a daughter Leonor, by Luisa, who 
married first Pedro Puertocarrero and afterward Francisco de la Cueva, 
nephew of the Duke of Alburquerque. The other sister also left a daughter. 
Hi f>t. Gnat. , 347-8. Bernal Diaz mentions also a son, Pedro, by Luisa. Hist. 
Verdad., 54; Claingero, Storia Mess., iii. 54. According to Camargo, 300 
young and pretty slave girls, destined for the sacrifices, were the first women 
offered. They were at first declined, but finally accepted for the suite of 
Marina. Finding that they were well treated, the lords offered their own 
daughters in marriage. Hist. Tlax., 14S-50. A number of women were added 
to the suite of Marina and of the new wives, from the first families in the state, 
another authority intimates. Gomara, Hist. Mex., 86; Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. 
cap. xi. 

17 Camarrfo, Hist. Tlax., 150-1. They opened a road to Cempoala, and 
brought effects from Villa Rica, including presents for the lords. Ixtlilxochitl, 
Hist. Chick., 294. 

48 Tapia writes, ' Yo que esto escribo pregunte' a Muteczuma y a otros sus 


Cortes had now a further motive for going to 
Mexico, which was the alliance proposed to him by 
Ixtlilxochitl, the rebellious brother of Cacama, and 
ruler of northern Acolhuacan, who hoped with 
Spanish aid to overthrow the hated Montezuma, and 
raise himself to the throne of Tezcuco, at least, and 
to the head of the allied states. To this pleasing pro- 
posal Cortes replied in a manner which could not fail 
to promote his own interests by keeping alive the 
spirit of dissension among his prey. 49 Huexotzinco, 
the ally of Tlascala, sent in her formal adhesion about 
the same time. 

Finding that the Spaniards could not be kept away 
from Mexico, Montezuma thought it best at any rate 
to hasten their departure from Tlascala. An urgent 
invitation to visit him in his capital was accordingly 
sent through four prominent caciques, attended by 
followers bearing as usual a costly present; consisting 
of ten bales of embroidered robes and a number of 
gold articles, worth fully ten thousand pesos. 50 A 
council was held to consider the departure and the 
route to be taken. The lords of Tlascala did not 
relish the idea of a friendly visit to Mexico by their 
new allies, to be won over perhaps by the arts of 
the enemy. They sought to impress upon Cortes that 

capitanes,' and was told that the Mexicans could readily have subdued little 
Tlascala, but they preferred to use her as a means, close at hand, for exer- 
cising their youth and armies in warfare, and for supplying war captives for 
the sacrifices ! Tapia, Rel. , in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc. , ii. 572. ' Juntaua dozientos 
y trezientos mil hombres para vna batalla. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 89. The Tlas- 
caltecs spoke of their descent from giants, and produced gigantic bones in 
evidence thereof. Some of these were sent to Spain by Cortes, together with 
the report. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 55. 

49 Torquemada places the arrival of this embassy immediately after CorteV 
entry into Tlascala, Monarq. hid., i. 433, while Cla\ igero dates it at Tecohuat- 
zmco. Storia Mess., iii. 51-2. Brasseur de Bourbourg calls it the second 
embassy, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 165, for he accepts the statement of Ixtlilxochitl, 
Hist. Ckich., 288, that the first envoys saw Corte's at his camp by San Juan 
de Ulua. For IxtlilxochitPs career, see Native Races, v. 474-7. 

)0 Bernal Diaz relates that Corte's detained these men as hostages, while he 
sent Alvarado and Bernardino Vazquez de Tapia to Mexico to communicate 
With Montezuma, and to examine the route and approaches to the city. They 
had hardly left before the company began to censure the rashness of sending 
two valuable men on so risky a mission, and Cortes accordingly sent to recall 
them. Tapia having fallen sick on the road, they gladly returned, but left 
the guides to proceed to Mexico. 


Montezuma was the incarnation of treachery 5 await- 
ing only an opportunity to get them into his power 
and to crush them. They were ready to join in an 
armed descent upon the tyrant, proposing to spare 
neither young nor old ; the former, because they might 
grow up to be avengers, the latter because of their 
dangerous counsel. Cortes suggested that he might 
yet establish friendly relations between them and the 
Mexicans, and reopen the trade in salt, cotton, and 
other articles; but this aroused only an incredulous 
smile. With regard to the route, they favored either 
the Calpulalpan road, proposed by Ixtlilxochitl, or 
that leading through Huexotzinco, friendly to them, 
declaring that it would be preposterous to pass by the 
way of Cholula, as urged by the Mexican envoj^s, 
since this was the very hatching -place for Monte- 
zuma's plots. The road to it, and every house there, 
were full of snares and pitfalls ; the great Quetzalcoatl 
temple-pyramid, for instance, being known to contain 
a mighty stream which could at any moment be let 
loose upon invaders, and Montezuma having a large 
army hidden near the saintly city. 51 

The extraordinary accounts of Cholula served to 
arouse Cortes' curiosity , and the representation of 
dangers made him the more resolved to encounter 
them, chiefly because he did not wish to appear in- 
timidated. This route was beside easier, and passed 
through a rich country. He accordingly decided in 

51 'Me dijeron. . . .que para ello habia enviado Muteczuma de su tierra. . . . 
cincuenta mil hombres, y que los tenia en guarnicion a dos leguas de la dieha 
ciudad .... 6 que tenian cerrado el cam in o real por donde solian ir, y heclio otro 
nuevo de muchos hoyos, y palos agudos liincados y encubiertos para que los 
caballos cayesen y se mancasen, y que tenian muchas de las calles tapiadas, y 
por las azoteas de las casas muchas piedras. ' Cortes, Cartas, 70. The stream 
within the temple was a myth, which the Cholultecs sought to maintain in 
order to frighten their enemies. Oviedo and Gomara relate that Xicotencatl 
junior was concerned in these plots, and that, warned by his sister, the wife 
of Alvarado, Cortes had him quietly seized and choked to death, iii. 497; Hist. 
Max. , 90. Whoever may have been throttled, it certainly was not the general, 
for he met his fate at a later date. According to Bernal Diaz the whole army 
was consulted as to whether all were prepared to start for Mexico. Many of 
those owning estates in Cuba raised objections, but Cort6s firmly declared that 
there was no other way open than the one to Mexico, and so they yielded. 
Hist. Verdad.y 56. 


favor of it, and when reminded of the suspicious 
absence of any deputation from that city, he sent a 
message to the rulers that they might remedy the 
omission. 52 

The Cholultec council was divided on the answer 
to be sent, three of the members being in favor of 
compliance, and the other three, supported by the 
generalissimo, opposing any concession. 53 Finally a 
compromise was effected by sending three or four 
persons of no standing, and without presents, to say 
that the governors of tjie city were sick and could not 
come. The Tlascaltecs pointed out the disrespect in 
sending such men and such a message, and Cortes at 
once despatched four messengers to signify his dis- 
pleasure, and to announce that unless the Cholultecs 
within three days sent persons of authority to offer 
allegiance to the Spanish king, he would march 
forth and destroy them, proceeding against them as 
against rebels. 54 

Finding that it would not do to trifle with the 
powerful strangers, some of the highest nobles in' 
the city were despatched to the Spanish camp, with 
a suitable retinue, to tender excuses, pleading that 
they had dreaded to enter Tlascala, a state hostile 
to them. 

They invited Cortes to their city, where amends 

52 'Y dar la obediencia a nuestro Rey, y Sefior, sino que los ternia por de 
malas intenciones. ' JJernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 56. According to Camargo, 
Patlahuatzin of Tlascala was sent with the message. The Cholultecs seized 
and flayed his face and arms, cutting off the hands, so that they were left 
dangling by the skin from the neck. In this guise they sent him back with 
the reply that thus would they receive the white gods whose prowess he had 
extolled. The Tlascaltecs demanded that Cortes should avenge the cruelty and 
the insult, and he did so in the massacre of Cholula. This, continues the nar- 
rator, is commemorated in Tlascalan song, but the account is evidently mixed, 
and probably refers chiefly to some earlier occurrence. Hist. Tlax., 1G1-2* 
Brasseur de Bourbourg assumes that Patlahuatzin is merely insulted and ill- 
treated. The two peoples had once been friends and allies, but during the 
last battle which they fought against their common enemy, the Aztecs, the 
Cholultecs had suddenly changed sides and fallen on the rear of their unsus- 
pecting allies, inflicting great slaughter. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. cap. xviii. 

3 Three of the members are imprisoned for favoring an alliance with the 
'Spaniards, but they escape and come to CortCs, says Herrera, id. 

54 Cortes, Cartas, 71, says that he sent this message by the Cholultec mes- 


would be made by rendering the obedience and tribute 
which was considered due from them as vassals of his 
king. 55 

55 ' E asi lo asento tin escribano. ' Id. , 72. ' Otro dia vinieron muchos sefiores 
y capitanes de Chololla.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 91. According to Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, Cortes is already en route for Cholula when the friendly council 
members appear to bring excuses and invitations. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 169-70. 
Bernal Diaz, indeed, appears to say that the Cholultecs sent to excuse them- 
selves from appearing before Cortes so long as he remained in hostile territory. 
Hist. Verdad., 57. 



October, 1519. 

Departure from Tlascala — Description of Cholula — The Welcome — 
Army Quarters in the City — Intimations of a Conspiracy between 
the Mexicans and Cholultecs — Cortes Asks for Provisions and 
Warriors — He Holds a Council — Preparations for an Attack — 
The Lords Enter the Court with the Required Supplies — Cortes 
Reprimands them in an Address — The Slaughter Begins — Destruc- 
tion of the City — Butchery and Pillage — Amnesty finally Pro- 

the Cholultecs and Tlascaltecs — Dedication of a Temple to the 
Virgin — Reflections on the Massacre of Cholula. 

The Spaniards had been three weeks beneath the 
hospitable roofs of the Tlascaltecs, and now they de- 
parted amid expressions of good-will mingled with 
grief. 1 A crowd as large as that which had welcomed 
their arrival followed them for a considerable distance, 
and this included all the available warriors of the 
districts, 2 who would gladly have joined the handful of 
heroes in their quest for wealth and glory amongst 
the hated Aztecs. Cortes did not think it well, how- 
ever, to trammel his movements, or to intrude on his 
various hosts with too large a force of undisciplined 
and unmanageable men, whom he had not learned to 
trust, and only about five thousand were allowed to 
attach themselves to his army. 3 

1 ' Hico sacrificar treynta muchachos el dia. que se partieron.' Oviedo> 
iii. 407. 

timated by Cortes at a round 100,000. Others say he was offered 
10,000 to 20,000 men. 

; This is the figure deduced from later references. ' Quedaron en mi com- 
pafha hasta cinco 6 seis mil.' Cortes, Cartas, 72. Dismissing the 109,000 with 
presents, he retained only 3000. ' Por no ponerse en manos do gente barbara. ' 



Late in the afternoon the army reached the southern 
border of Tlascala, and camped by a river two leagues 
from Cholula. The city stood in a vast fertile plain, 
so thickly covered with plantations and gardens "that 
not a span of land remained uncultivated." A net- 
work of ditches irrigated the fields wherein maize 
and agave, cochineal and chile, swelled the resources 
of the owners. " No city in Spain/' exclaims Cortes, 
"presents a more beautiful exterior, with its even 
surface and mass of towers," interspersed with charm- 
ing gardens and fringed with alluring groves. Its 
six sections were marked bv fine, straight streets, 
lined with buildings, the neatness and substantial ap- 
pearance of which fully corresponded to the reputed 
wealth of the occupants. Cortes estimates the num- 
ber of houses at twenty thousand, with as many more 
in the suburbs, which implies a population of two 
hundred thousand. 4 

Cholula was one of the most ancient settlements in 
the country, with traditions reaching far back into the 
mist} r past. It was here that Quetzalcoatl had left 
the final impress of his golden age as ruler and prophet, 
and here that a grateful people had raised to him the 
grandest of his many temples, erected upon the ruins 
of a tower of Babel which had been stayed in its 
growth by divine interference. Notwithstanding the 
vicissitudes of war, during which the frenzy of the 
moment had overcome religious scruples to wreak 
destruction, or during which reckless invaders less 
imbued with veneration came to desecrate this western 
Rome, she had maintained herself, ever rising: from 
the ashes with renewed vigor and fresh splendor, 
and she w T as at this time the commercial centre for 

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. i. 'Six thousand warriors,' says Ixtlilxochitl, 
Hist. Ghich., 204. lie gives the names of their chiefs, which differ wholly 
from those mentioned in Camarr/o, Hist. Tlax., 160. ' Fueron tabien con el 
muehos mercaderes a rescatar sal y mantas.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 91. 

* Cartas, 74-5. 'En el tiempo de la guerra salian en campo ochenta 6 
noventa mill hombres de guerra.' Oriedo, iii. 40S. 'Ultra triginta nhllii 
familiarum capiebat. ' Las Casus, Begio. Ind. Devastat., 23. ' Parecio . . . . en 
elassiento, y prospetiua a Valladolid. ' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. i. 


the great Huitzilapan plateau, famous beside for her 
pottery and delicate fabrics. The warlike Tlascaltecs 
referred to her contemptuously as a city of cunning 
and effeminate traders, and there was doubtless a 
good deal of truth in this; but then her merchants 
rivalled those of Mexico in wealth, while her citizens 
were not behind the dwellers on the lake in refine- 

But the chief renown of Cholula consisted in being 
the holy city of Anahuac, unequalled for the frequency 
and pomp of her festivals and sacred pageantry; in 
being the religious centre for countless pilgrims who 
journeyed from afar to worship at the shrines here 
maintained, not only by the citizens, but by princes of 
different countries. Her temples were estimated to 
equal the number of days in the year, and as some 
possessed more than one chapel, fully four hundred 
towers rose to bewilder the eye with their gleaming 
ornamentation. Chief among them was the semi- 
spherical temple, with its vestal fire, devoted to 
Quetzalcoatl, which stood upon a quadrilateral mound 
of nearly two hundred feet in height, ascended by one 
hundred and twenty steps, and with a larger base 
than any old-world pyramid. 5 

The government was aristocratic republican, directed 
by a council of six nobles, elected in the six wards. At 
their head sat two supreme magistrates, the tlachiach 
and aquiach, chosen respectively from the priesthood 
and nobility, and corresponding to pontiff and captain- 
general, 6 the latter office held at this time by Tecuan- 
huehuetzin. 7 

: ' See Native Races, iii. iv. 

* Native Races, v. 264; Camarr/o, Hist. Tlax., 160. 'Gouernauase por vn 
capitan general, eligido por la republica, con el consejo do seys nobles, assist- 
lan on el sacerdotes. ' Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. caj). ii. Gomara mentions only 
a captain-general or governor. 1 'list. Mex., 95. Torquemada gives the city 
four lords, who divided between them the territory, ii. 350-1. The govern- 
ment appears to have undergone several changes since the age of Quetzal- 
coatl, and at one period four nobles appear to have represented the wards, 
but these increased in course of time to six, and the council appears also to 
have been increased by the attendance of other priests beside the pontiff. 

' Chimalpain, Ills'. Conq., 100, 107-8. For history and description of city 
and temples, see Native Races, ii.-v. 


At the command of these chiefs a number of Cho- 
lultec nobles appeared at the camp to offer welcome 
and to bring provisions. 8 In the morning the army 
advanced toward the city and was met by a crowd 
of fully ten thousand people, preceded by a stately 
procession, at the head of which appeared the lords. 
They showed themselves most obsequious, but re- 
quested that the Tlascaltecs, as their enemies, should 
not be allowed to enter the city, and Cortes ac- 
cordingly persuaded these warriors to camp outside. 
Some of their carriers alone entered with the 
Cempoalans and Spaniards to receive a share in the 
proffered hospitality. If the troops found no arches 
and floral festoons, as at Tlascala, to honor them, nor 
the same jubilant shouts of welcome, they were at 
least heralded by clashing music, and dense crowds of 
spectators lined the streets and roofs, while priests 
in white robes went chanting by their side, swinging 
the censers whence the copal rose to shed a halo on 
the heroes. Cortes was struck with the superior 
quality and quantity of dresses worn, the higher 
classes being noticeable in their embroidered mantles, 
not unlike the Moorish cloak. He also observed that 
beggars abounded, as they did in " Spain and other 
parts inhabited by civilized people." 

The courts of one of the temples 9 were offered as 
quarters for the army, and presently servants ap- 
peared with provisions, which, if not abundant, were 
at least good. 10 Cortes did not omit to vaunt the 
grandeur of his king and to impress the advantages 
of the true faith, but although the .lords bowed ad- 
mission to the first they held firmly to their idols. 

8 From a vague reference in Camargo, Brasseur de Bourbourg assumes that 
this party is headed by the three counsellors least friendly to the Spaniards. 
A little later the other three come to Cortes for protection, after escaping from 
the imprisonment imposed iipon them by their colleagues. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 
174. Herrera places the arrival of the refugees at Tlascala. dec. ii. lib. vi. 
cap. xviii. But there appears to be no ground for these statements. 

9 ' Del gran Cu de Quetzalcoatl.'' Sahagan, Hist. Conq., IS. 

10 'Les dieron aquella noche a cada vno vn gallipauo.' Goma.ra, Hist. 
Me:i\, 92. 


The following day they failed to appear, and the 
supply of food dwindled perceptibly, while none was 
furnished on the third day, the populace even ap- 
pearing to avoid the Spanish quarters. Cortes sent 
to remind the chiefs of their neglect, but received 
only the scantiest provisions, with the excuse that 
the stock was nearly exhausted. 11 

The same day came envoys from Montezuma, un- 
provided with the usual presents, who, after some 
words with the confreres acting as guides to the 
Spaniards, represented that to proceed to Mexico 
would be useless, since the roads were impassable and 
the food supply insufficient. 12 Finding that these and 
other statements had no effect on Cortes, they left, 
taking with them the leading envoy stationed with 
the Spaniards. 13 All this was far from reassuring, 
taken in connection with the warning of the Tlas- 
caltecs still ringing in their ears, and with the report 
brought by Cempoalans of barricades, of stone piles 
upon the roofs, and of excavations in the main 
street set with pointed sticks and loosely covered 
over. 1 * 

Now came messengers from the allied camp to 
announce that women and children had been leaving 
the city with their effects, and that unusual prepa- 
rations seemed to be going on. Scarcely had this set 
Cortes pondering when Marina appeared with the still 
more startling information that a native woman of 
rank, won by her beauty and evident wealth no doubt, 
had just been urging her in a most mysterious man- 
ner to transfer herself and her effects to the house 
of the woman, where she should be married to her 

11 'Lo que traian era agua, y lefia,' says Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 58. 

12 'Do Muteczuma estaba habiu niucho mimero de leones e tigres 6 otras 
fieras, 6 que cada que Muteczuma quirie las hacie soltar, 6 bastaban para 
comernos 6 despedazarnos. ' Tupia, Rel., in 1 cazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 574; Go- 
mara, Hist. Mex., 92. 

13 Cortes told them to wait, for he would start for Mexico on the following 
day, and they promised to do so, says Bernal Diaz, Hint. Verdad. , 58. 

11 On his entry into the city Cort6s also observed suspicious features. 
'Algunas calles de la ciudad tapiadas, y muchas piedras en todas las azoteas. ' 
Cartas, 72. 


son. 15 By expressing gratitude and pretending ac- 
quiescence, Marina elicited that envoys had been 
coming and going between Mexico and Cholula for 
some time, and that Montezuma had prevailed on 
the chiefs, by means of bribes and promises, 16 to 
attack the Spaniards that very night or in the 
morning. Aztec troops were stationed close to the 
city, to the number of twenty or even fifty thousand, 
to aid in the work and to carry the Mexican share of 
the captives to their capital. 17 Cortes at once secured 
the communicative woman, who was awaiting the re- 
turn of Marina with her valuables, and ascertained 
further that the covered excavations, the stone piles, 
and the barricades were no fiction. 

He also secured two apparently friendly priests, 18 
and by bribing them with chalchiuite stones, and 
showing that he was aware of the plot, obtained 
a revelation which agreed substantially with the ac- 
count already given. It appeared that Montezuma 
had proposed to quarter his troops in the city, but 
this the lords had objected to, fearing that once 
within the walls the Aztecs would retain possession. 19 
The Cholultecs intended to do the deed themselves, 
and it was only in case the Spaniards left the city, 
or escaped, that the confederate Aztecs were to take 
an active part. 

Only three of the wards had consented to share in 
the treachery, 20 and the priests of the others had that 

15 'Hermano de otro moco que traia la vieja que la acoinpaiiaua. ' Bernal 
Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 59. This is probably the young man who, according to 
Peter Martyr, reveals the plot to Aguilar. A 'Cempoal maiden' was also 
warned by a Cholultec woman, dec. v. cap. ii. 

16 'Dieron al capitan-general vn atambor de oro.' Gomara, Hist. Mex., 92. 
This official was the husband of the old woman. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. , 59. 

17 'Auian de quedar veinte de nosotros para sacrificar a los idolos de Cho- 
lula.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 59. Others say half the captives. 

18 Marina won them over. Id. 'Dos que andauan muy solicitos.' Ilerrera, 
dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. i. Brasseur de Bourbourg supposes that the friendly 
chiefs were those who gave the first intimation of the plot, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 
174, and it is not unlikely that they did warn the Spaniards. 

19 Oviedo regards the Cholultecs as having rebelled against Montezuma, 
iii. 498. But they stood rather in the position of allies. See Native Races, v. 
Bernal Diaz assumes that half the Aztec troops were admitted. 

20 'Los Mexicanos. . . .trataron con los Sefiores de los Tres Barrios.' Tor- 


very day sacrificed ten children 21 to the god of war, 
and received assurances of victory. So confident were 
they of securing the encaged guests that ropes and 
stakes had been prepared to bind the captives. 

Cortes called his counsellors, and placing before 
them the state of affairs asked their views. A few of 
the more cautious advised retreat to Tlascala, whose 
friendly hospitality seemed alluring. Others suggested 
an immediate departure by way of the friendly Huex- 
otzinco, while the majority inclined to a prompt and 
effective chastisement of the treachery as a warning 
to others. This was what Cortes had determined upon. 
He showed them how well the arrangement of the 
courts would answer for the plan he had evolved, and 
how strong they were in case of a siege. 

Summoning the lords, he expressed his displeasure 
at the inconsiderate treatment received, and said that 
he would rid them of his presence on the morrow. He 
reminded them of the allegiance they had tendered, 
and declared that if loyal they would be rewarded; 
if not, punishment would follow. Finally he demanded 
provisions for the journey, and two thousand warriors, 
beside carriers, to accompany the army. 22 This ap- 
peared to suit their plans, for they exchanged a look 
of intelligence, and at once promised compliance, pro- 
testing at the same time their devotion. " What need 
have these of food," they muttered with a laugh, 
"when they themselves are soon to be eaten cooked 
with chile?" 23 That very night preparations were 

qwmada, i. 438. Herrera has been even more explicit, and Bernal Diaz con- 
firms this in several places, without specifying the number. 'Otros barrios, 
que no se hallaron en las traiciones.' Hist. Verdad., 60. 

21 Three years old, half males, half females. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. ii. 
Oviedo supposes the females to be young virgins, iii. 498. Bernal Diaz says 
five children and two other persons. 

22 Most authors, following Gomara and Herrera, assume that only carriers 
were asked for, but Diaz writes warriors, and correctly, no doubt, since it 
could not be CorteV plan or desire to wreak vengeance on helpless carriers, 
but rather on the very men who proposed to attack him. According to 
Tapia, followed by Gomara, Cortes upbraids the lords for lying and plotting, 
but they assure him of their loyalty. Rd., in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc., ii. 575. 
It is not likely that he would have roused suspicion by such language. 

23 'Aguilar que los oya hablar.' Oviedo, iii. 498. 

Hist. Mex., Vol. I. 1G 


made, the Spaniards planting guns at the approaches 
to the streets and courts, looking to the horses and 
accoutrements, and sending a message to the Tlascal- 
tecs to enter the city and join them on hearing the 
first shot. 

In the morning, so early indeed as to indicate a 
decided eagerness, came the lords and leading priests, 
with an immense throng. A force even larger than 
had been demanded followed them into the Spanish 
quarter, and was allowed to file into the court, which 
was commanded at all points by the soldiers and the 
cannon, the latter as yet innocent-looking instruments 
to the Cholultecs. 24 The lords and leading men, to the 
number of thirty or forty, were invited to Cortes' 
rooms to receive his farewell. He addressed them in 
a severe tone, in the presence of the Aztec envoys, 
representing that he had sought to win their friend- 
ship for himself and their adhesion for his king, and 
to further this he had treated them with every con- 
sideration. They had withheld the necessary supplies, 
yet he had respected their property and persons, and 
for their sake he had left his stanch allies outside 
the city. In return for this they had, under the mask 
of friendship, plotted against the lives of his party, 
the invited guests of themselves and of Montezuma, 
with the intention of assassinating them. But they 
had been caught in their own trap. The amazement 
of the chiefs deepened into terror as he concluded. 
" Surely it is a god that speaks," they murmured, " since 
he reads our very thoughts." On the impulse of the 
moment they admitted their guilt, but cast the blame 
on Montezuma. This, rejoined Cortes, did not justify 
treachery, and the excuse should avail them naught. 
The lords who had been opposed to the plot, and a 
few others less guilty or less responsible chiefs and 
priests, were now taken aside, and from them further 

24 Picked warriors were brought, pretending to be slaves and carriers. 
Tapia, Rel., in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 575. 'Co hamacas para lleuar los 
Espaiioles.' Gornara, Hist. Mex., 93. 


particulars were obtained, which implicated the Mexi- 
cans only the more. 

Returning to the envoys, who protested that their 
emperor was wholly blameless, he reassured them by 
saying that he believed not a word of the accusation. 
Montezuma was too great a prince, he continued, to 
stoop to such baseness, and had beside, by means of 
presents and messages, shown himself to be his friend. 
The Cholultecs should suffer the penalty not only of 
their treason but of their falsehood. The fact was 
that it did not suit Cortes to quarrel with Montezuma 
for the present, but rather to lull him into fancied 
security. 25 A terrible punishment was now in store 
for the Cholultecs. 

The signal being given, volleys poured from cannon, 
arquebuses, and cross-bows upon the warriors con- 
fined in the court, and then the Spaniards rushed in 
with sword and lance thrusting and slashing at the 
packed masses. The high walls permitted no escape, 
and at the gates gleamed a line of lances above the 
smoking mouths of the guns. Pressing one upon 
another, the victims offered only a better mark for the 
ruthless slayers, and fell in heaps, dead and dying 
intermingled, while many were trampled underfoot. 
Not one of those who had entered the court remained 
standing. Among the slain were the captain-general 
and the most inimical of the lords and leading men. 26 

Meanwhile other guns had belched destruction 
along the approaches from the streets, as the crowd 
rushed forward in response to the cries and groans 

2o According to Bernal Diaz the envoys are told of this on the preceding 
evening, and are thereupon placed under guard. Hist. Verdad., 59. 

20 Tapia states that most of the lords and chiefs whom Cortes addressed 
were killed. lief.., in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc.,ii. 575. 'Some of them,' say Ixtlil- 
xochitl and Gomara, while Clavigero, Brasseur de Bourbourg, and others 
suppose that all these leaders were pardoned, which is not likely, since so 
many less guilty men fell. 'El que solia madar, fue vno de los que murieron 
en el patio.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 60. He intimates that the real 
carriers were allowed to leave the court, the warriors alone being detained for 
slaughter. The two friendly priests were sent home to be out of harm's way. 
1 his leads to the supposition that all the rest of the leading men fell. ' Los 
otros seiiores naturales todos murieron.' Oviedo, iii. 499. 


of their butchered friends. Terrified by the fiery 
thunder and its mysterious missiles, they fell back; 
and now the cavalry charged, trampling them under- 
foot, and opening a way for the infantry and allies, 
who pressed onward to take advantage of the con- 
fusion and to repeat the scene enacted within. Panic- 
stricken as the natives were by the strange arms 
and tactics of the Spaniards, they offered little or 
no resistance, though armed with' intent to attack. 
Being also without leaders, they had none to restrain 
their flight, but pressed one on the other, down the 
streets and into buildings, anywhere out of the reach of 
the cutting blades and fierce-tramping horses. The 
Tlascaltecs 27 were at the same time falling on their 
flanks, glorying in the opportunity to repay their 
enemies the treachery of years ago. A bloody track 
they left. Unprepared for such an onslaught the 
people of Cholula found little opportunity to make 
use of the barricades and the stone piles, and where 
they attempted it the fire-arm and cross-bow aided 
the fire-brand. The strongest resistance was met at 
the temples, wherein the fugitives mostly gathered, 
but even these did not hold out long, for stones and 
arrows availed little against armor. 

All who could sought to gain the great temple of 
Quetzalcoatl, which offered not only the best defence 
from its height, but was held to be impregnable 
through the special protection extended over it by 
the deity. Within its walls la} r confined a mighty 
stream, so it was said, which by the removal of a 
few stones could be let loose to overwhelm invaders. 
Now, if ever, in the name of all the gods, let it be 
done! Reverently were removed, one by one, the 
stones of the sacred wall, but no flood appeared, not 
even a drop of water. In their despair the besieged 
hastened to hurl the stones, and arrows, and darts 28 

27 Wearing crowns of rushes to be distinguished from their enemies. Ca- 
margo, Hist. Tlax., 164. 

28 Zamacois enters into an elaborate argument to disprove the unimportant 


upon the enemy as they climbed the sides of the pyra- 
mid. But there was little use in this. Quickly they 
were driven by the sword from the platform into the 
chapel tower. Not caring to lose time in a siege, the 
Spaniards offered them their lives. One alone is said 
to have surrendered. The rest, inspired by the pres- 
ence of the idols, spat defiance. It was their last 
effort, for the next moment the torch was applied, 
and enfolding the building, the flames drove the 
besieged, frenzied with terror and excitement, upon 
the line of pikes inclosing them, or head -foremost 
down the dizzy heights. To the last could be seen a 
priest upon the highest pinnacle, enveloped in smoke 
and glare, declaiming against the idols for having 
abandoned them, and shouting: "Now, Tlascala, thy 
heart has its revenge! Speedily shall Montezuma 
have his!" 29 

During the first two hours of the slaughter over 
three thousand men perished, if we may believe 
Cortes, and for three hours more he continued the 
carnage, raisin of the number of deaths according to 
different estimates to six thousand or more. 30 The 
loss of life would have been still greater but for the 
strict orders issued to spare the women and children, 
and also the less hostile wards, 31 and for the eagerness 
of the Tlascaltecs to secure captives as well as spoils, 
and of the Spaniards to hunt for treasures. The 
hostile wards had besides been pretty well cleared of 
inhabitants by the time Cortes returned to his quarters 

statement that burning arrows were showered on the besiegers. Hist. Mej., 
ii. 707. This author has a decided faculty for singling out trifles, apparently 
under the impression that important questions can take care of themselves. 

29 Carnarr/o, Hist. T/ax., 1G3-4; Torqvemada, i. 440. 'Se dejaron alii 
quemar.' Tapia, ReL, in Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. 576. 

30 Cortes, Carta*, 73-4; Gomara, Hist. Mex., 94; 6000 and more within two 
hours. Ixtl'dxochitl, Hist. Chich., 294. Las Casas lets him first kill 6000 
unarmed carriers and then proceed to devastate the city. Reyio. Incl. l)e- 
vastat., 27. 

31 'Eche toda la gente fuera de la ciudad por muchas partes della.' Cortex, 
Cartas, 74. The statement of Bernal Diaz that the friendly priests were sent 
home, to be out of harm's way, shows also that parts of the city were respected. 
See notes 17 and 23. 'El marques mandaba que se guardasen de no matar 
mujeres ni niiios.' Tapia, lieL, in Icazbatceta, Col. Hoc, ii. 576. 


forbidding further butchery. When the amnesty was 
proclaimed, however, numbers appeared from hiding- 
places, even from beneath the heaps of slain, while 
many who had pretended death, to escape the sword, 
arose and fled. 

The pillage was continued for some time longer, 32 
and as the Tlascaltecs cared chiefly for fabrics, feathers, 
and provisions, particularly salt, the Spaniards were 
allowed to secure all the gold and trinkets they could, 
though these were far less in amount than had been 
expected. 33 When the real work was over, Xicoten- 
catl appeared with twenty thousand men and tendered 
his services; but Cortes could offer him only a share 
in the booty for his attention, and with this he re- 
turned to Tlascala to celebrate the downfall of the 
hated and boastful neighbor. 34 

The prayers of the chiefs who had been spared, 
supported by the neighboring caciques, and even by 
the Tlascalan lords, prevailed on Cortes to stop the 
pillage after the second day, and to issue a pardon, 
although not till everything of value had been 
secured. Some of the chiefs were thereupon sent 
forth to recall the fugitive inhabitants, and with such 
good effect that within a few days the city was again 
peopled. The debris and gore being removed, the 
streets speedily resumed their accustomed appearance, 
and the shops and markets were busy as before, 
though blackened ruins and desolated homes long 
remained a testimony of the fearful blow. 35 Im- 

32 For two days, says Tapia, id., and Bernal Diaz intimates that it ended 
with the second day. Hist. Verdad., 60. 

33 ' Tomaron los Castellanos el oro, y pluma, auque se hallb poco. ' Herrera, 
dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. ii. 'Ovo mucho despojo de oro 6 plata, 5 says Oviedo, 
iii. 499, probably because he knew Cholula to be rich ; but a great deal of pri- 
vate treasure at least must have been taken out of the city when the women 
were sent away. The Tlascaltecs carried off 20,000 captives, he adds. 

31 H err era, ubi sup. Oviedo allows a reinforcement of 40,000 Tlascaltecs 
to join in the massacre and pillage, iii. 498, and Bernal Diaz, Hint. Verdad., 60, 
says the late comers joined in the pillage on the second day. The Tlascaltecs 
brought the Spaniards food, of which they had fallen short. Ixtlilxochitl, 
Hist. Chich., 295. 

35 A very similar massacre and raid was perpetrated by the Chichimec- 
Toltccs at the close of the thirteenth century. Native Races, v. 484-7. 


pressed no less by the supposed divine penetration of 
the white conquerors than by their irresistible prowess 
and terrible revenge, the natives were only too ready 
to kiss with veneration the hand red with the blood 
of their kindred. To this they were also impelled by 
finding that the Spaniards not only allowed no sacri- 
fice of captives, but ordered the Tlascaltecs to release 
the prisoners they had hoped to carry into slavery. 
This was a most trying requirement to the allies, but 
at the instance of Maxixcatzin and other lords they 
obeyed in so far as to restore the greater proportion 
of the thousands who had been secured. 

The intervention of the Tlascaltec lords and chiefs 
in behalf of the Cholultecs tended to promote a more 
friendly feeling between the two peoples, particularly 
since the one had been satiated with revenge and the 
other humbled, and Cortes took advantage of this to 
formally reconcile them. Whatever may have been 
their sincerity in the matter, they certainly found no 
opportunity to renew their feud. 

The captain-general having fallen, the people, with 
CorteV approval, chose a successor from the ranks of 
the friendly chiefs. 36 Cortes assured them of his good- 
will and protection so long as they remained the loyal 
subjects they now promised to be, and he hoped that 
nothing would occur hereafter to mar their friendly 
intercourse. He explained to them the mysteries of 
his faith, and its superiority over the superstitious 
worship of the idols which had played them false 
during the late conflict, counselling them to cast aside 
such images, and let their place be occupied by the 
redeeming emblems of Christianity. The terrified 
natives could only promise obedience, and hasten to 
aid in erecting crosses, but the idols nevertheless re- 
tained their places. Cortes was quite prepared to 
take advantage of his power as conqueror to compel 

36 Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 95. Finding that the brother of the deceased was, 
according to custom, entitled to the office, CortCs appointed him. Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 60. Oviedo intimates that one governor was chosen to take 
the place of all the other ruling men. iii. 499. 


the acceptance of his doctrines by the now humbled 
people, but Padre Olmedo representing the futility of 
enforced conversion, he contented himself with break- 
ing the sacrificial cages and forbidding the offering of 
human victims. As it was, idolatry had suffered a 
heav} r blow in this terrible chastisement of the holy 
city, rich as she was in her sanctuaries and profound 
in her devotion. The gods had proved powerless! 
Although a number of temples were speedily restored 
to their worship, the great pyramid was never again 
to be graced by pagan rites. Twice had this temple 
shared in the destruction of the city, only to rise 
more beautiful than ever in its delusive attractions; 
now a simple stone cross stood upon the summit, 
erected by Cortes to guard the site on behalf of the 
church which was there to rise a few years later. 
This was dedicated to the Virgen de los Remedios, 
whose image is said to have been left in the city by 
her conquerors. 37 

The massacre of Cholula forms one of the darkest 
pages in the annals of the conquest, and has afforded 
much ground for reproach against Cortes, but it is 
to be regarded from different stand-points. The dia- 
bolical doctrines of the day may be said to have 
forced on adventurers in America the conquest of 
her nations, and cruel deeds were but the natural re- 
sult, particularly when the task was undertaken with 
insufficient forces. According to their own admission, 
made also before the later investigating committee, 
the Cholultecs had plotted to destroy their invited 
guests, whom they sought first to lull into fancied 
security, and in this they acted as treacherously and 
plotted as cruelly as did their intended victims in re- 

37 It is also said 'que la trajo un religiose- franciscano a quien se le apareci6 
en Roma.' Veytia, Hist. Ant. Mej., i. 156. 'Disgusted with the idol which 
had played them false, they installed another in its place,' says Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. VerdacL, 61. The disregard shown by Spaniards even for the temples 
and relics of Quetzalcoatl might have struck the natives as peculiar in men 
whom rumor pointed out as his descendants, yet no chronicle refers to it. 


taliating. True, they had been forced by threats, and 
by the exhibition of an apparently superior force, into 
a submission which they could ill brook, and were 
justified in striking a blow for liberty, especially when 
encouraged, or bidden, by the great monarch; but 
they had no right to complain if they suffered the 
penalty everywhere affixed to treachery; and the 
Cholultecs did bear an unenviable reputation in this 
respect. The native records naturally assert their 
innocence; but even if we ignore the confession of 
the Indians, as prompted by fear of their judges and 
masters, or as colored by Franciscans whose patron 
Cortes was, and if we disregard all official testimony, 
we must still admit that there was evidence enough 
to justify the general in a measure which he regarded 
as necessary for the safety of his men/ 


38 Spanish chroniclers as a rule approve the deed as necessary and just, 
either in tacit or open comment, and a few devout missionaries, who have as- 
sumed the rank of Indian apostles, are the only ones to take exception. Chief 
among these stands Las Casas, as might be expected from his sympathy with 
Velazquez, and from his character as Indian protector. He condemns it in the 
most unmeasured terms as a base murder of innocent and defenceless people, 
committed merely with a view to spread terror. Six thousand carriers, he 
writes, were shut up in a court and put to the sword, while the many dis- 
covered alive on the following days were thrust through and through. The 
chiefs of the city and neighborhood, to the number of over 100, were chained 
together to a circle of poles and burned alive, and the king, who fled with 30 
or 40 followers to a temple, met the same fate there. While the soldiers were 
butchering and roasting the captives, ' eorum Capitaneum summa loetitia per- 
fusum in hunc cantum prorupisse : 

Monte ex Tarpeio Romana incendla speotans 
Ipse Nero planctus vidit, nee corde movetur.' 

Las Casas, Reg. Lid. Devastat. , 26-8. A number of finely executed copper 
plates are appended to illustrate these deeds. 

Bernal Diaz expresses himself hotly against this version, and states that 
several of the first Franciscans who came to Mexico held an investigation at 
Cholula of the massacre. After examining the leaders, and other persona 
who had witnessed it, they came to the conclusion that the story of the 
conquerors was true, and that the slaughter was a well merited punishment 
for a plot which involved the lives of Cortes' soldiers, and would, if success- 
ful, have stayed the conquest for God and the king. Diaz had heard the pious 
Motolinia say that although he grieved over the deed, yet, being done, it was 
best so, since it exposed the lies and wickedness of the idols. Hist. Verdad. , 
61. The Franciscans did not probably care to weigh carefully the value of 
testimony from new converts given before a tribunal composed of their re- 
ligious and political masters, nor were they likely to favor a Dominican friar 
like Las Casas when the interest of their patron Cortes was at stake. In awe 
of the friars, and in terror of the conquerors whose encomienda slaves they 
were, the Indians hardly dared to say aught to implicate the latter. This is 


It might be claimed that by holding captive the 
chiefs their safety would have been assured; but 
treason was rife everywhere, and a lesson was needed. 

doubtless the view Las Casas would have taken. Intent on pleading the 
cause of his dusky proteges, he cared not to sift statements that might create 
sympathy for them. Yet, had he foreseen how widely his accusations would 
be used to sully Spanish fame, he might have been more circumspect. ' E' vero, 
che f u troppo rigorosa la vendetta, ed orribile la strage, ' says Clavigero ; yet 
he severely condemns Las Casas for his distorted account. Storia Mess. , iii. 63-4. 
According to Sahagun's native record, the Tlascaltecs persuaded Cortes to 
avenge them on the Cholultecs, and as the latter received him coldly, he 
began to believe the accusations of his allies. Assembling the chiefs and 
soldiers, together with citizens, in the temple court, he slaughtered them, de- 
fenceless as they were. Hist. Conq., 18. Bustamante comments on this ver- 
sion, and denounces the conquerors as atrociously cruel. Id. (ed. 1840), 56-63. 
Duran's version is a little milder. His main object being to give the life 
of Montezuma, he has passed by many events connected with the Spaniards, 
and has suppressed many accounts of their cruelties. He accordingly refers 
but briefly to the Cholula massacre, saying that 'the Indians, in their eagerness 
to serve the Spaniards, came in such large numbers to their quarters with 
provisions, grass, etc. , that Cortes suspected treasonable designs, and put them 
to the sword.' Hist. Ind., MS., ii. 438-9. Ixtlilxochitl evidently struggles 
between his fear of the Spanish rulers and the desire to tell what he regards 
as the truth. He intimates that the only ground for suspicion against the 
Cholultecs was the effort to dissuade Cortes from going to Mexico. The chiefs 
and the citizens were assembled on the pretence of selecting carriers, and 
over 5000 fell beneath the sword. Hist. Chick. , 294. An antagonistic view of 
the affair is offered by Juan Cano, of Narvaez' expedition, who gave Oviedo 
the hearsay statement that Cortds had asked for 3000 carriers, and wantonly 
killed them. iii. 552. Carbajal Espinosa, a Mexican historian, like Busta- 
mante, regards the victims as innocent and the deed as barbarous. Hist. Mex., 
ii. 182. Robertson considers that Cortes had good reasons for it, yet 'the 
punishment was certainly excessive and atrocious.' Hist. Am., ii. 452. Solis 
condemns those who seek to accuse the Spaniards of cruelty and to pity the 
Indians — 'maligna compasion, hija del odio y de laenvidia.' The conquerors 
gave religion to them, and that he regards as sufficient compensation. Hist. 
Mex. , i. 345. ' Cortez felt but doubtful of their fidelity, and feared to leave 
his rear to a people who might ruin his enterprise,' says Wilson, Conq., Mex., 
SS3, in explanation of the motive ; but he forgets that a few hostages, as taken 
from other peoples on the route, would have secured CortCs far more than the 
murder of a small percentage of this population. Prescott compares the deed 
with European cruelties, and, considering the danger threatening the Span- 
iards, he excuses it. He prefaces his comments by a consideration of the 
right of conquest. Mex., ii. 29-39. Alas for honesty, humanity, decency, 
when talented American authors talk of the right of one people to rob and 
murder another people! See also Veytia, Hist. AM. Mcj., iii. 381-2; Pi- 
zarro y OrcUano, Varones Ilvstres, 86-9; Peralta, Not. Hist., 112-13, 313-14; 
Pimentel, Mem. Sit., 90-2. Although some of the early Dutch writers eagerly 
copy and even exaggerate Las Casas' version, the contemporary German 
writers are quite moderate. Cortes' version is given in the Welibuch Spiegel 
mid bildtnis des gantz^n Erdtbodens von Sebastiano Franco Wordensi, Tubingen, 
1534, ccxxxvii leaves, beside preface and register. This book was much sought 
after in its day, and received several editions, in German and Dutch, as late as 
the seventeenth century. The earliest mentioned by Harrisse is dated 1533. 
The new continent was gradually receiving a larger space in the cosmographies 
at this period, and Franck actually assigns it a whole section, as one of the four 
parts of the world. The historic and geographic description of Africa occupies 


Here among the greatest plotters, and in the holy 
city, the lesson would be most effective. It might 
also be claimed that the chiefs were the guilty ones, 
and should alone have suffered, not the citizens and 
soldiers; but they were also in arms, even if sub- 
ordinate, and such discrimination is not observed in 
our own age. 

Outrages equally as cruel are to-day exculpated 
throughout Christendom as exigencies of war. If 
we, then, overlook such deeds, how much more ex- 
cusable are they in the more bloody times of Cortes? 
But neither now nor then can war, with any of its 
attendant atrocities, be regarded by right-thinking, 
humane men as aught but beastly, horrible, diabolical. 

the first and smallest section; Europe follows and absorbs about half the 
pages, while Asia receives 100 folios, and America the remainder, beginning 
at folio 210. The heading reads: Von America dem vierdten teyl derwelt, 
Anno M.CCCC.XCVII. erfunden; but after this chapter follow several pages 
on Portuguese discoveries in Africa and eastward, till folio 220, when begins 
the voyage of Columbus, ' sunst Dauber genant, ' the German translation of 
the admiral's name. After several chapters on the physical features, natural 
resources, and inhabitants of the new discoveries, comes one relating how 
Americus Vespucius found the fourth part of the world. This is followed by 
three pages of matter on Asia, as if the author, fearful of forgetting it, there 
and then gave his story. Several interpolations occur, but the chief portion 
of the remaining folios relates to Cortes' conquest of Mexico. The carelessly 
compiled and badly arranged material of the volume claims to be based on over 
sixty authorities, among which figure Apianus, Munster, Vespucci, Columbus, 
and Cortes. The affix Wordensi indicates that Franck was a Hollander, 
although he is often referred to as a German, probably because his life was 
passed chiefly in Germany. Here he issued, among other works, a not very 
orthodox chronicle, which was excommunicated at Strasburg. Franck was 
chased from more than one place, but enjoys the honor of standing in the first 
class among authors condemned by the Roman Church, and of having been 
deemed worthy of special refutation by Luther and Melancthon. Even the 
liberal-minded Bayle, after applying the term Anabaptist, refers to him as ' un 
vrai fanatique.' Diet. Hist., ii. 1216. 


October-November, 1519. 

Montezuma Consults the Gods — He again Begs the Strangers not to 
Come to Him — Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl — News prom Villa 
Rica — Death of Escalante — Return op the Cempoalan Allies — 
Again en route for Mexico — Reception at Huexotzinco — First 
View of the Mexican Valley — Exultations and Misgivings — Rest- 
ing at Quauhtechcatl — The Counterfeit Montezuma — Munificent 
Presents — The Emperor Attempts to Annihilate the Army by 
Means of Sorcerers — Through Quauhtechcatl, Amaquemecan, and 
Tlalmanalco — A Brilliant Procession Heralds the Coming of 
Cacama, King of Tezcuco — At Cuitlahuac — Met by Ixtlilxochitl — 
The Hospitality of Iztapalapan. 

Elated by his success, Cortes again spoke to the 
Aztec embassadors, telling: them in an aggrieved 
tone that proofs existed connecting Mexican troops 
with the recent plot, and that it would be only just 
for him to enter and desolate the country for such 
perfidy. The envoys protested their ignorance of any 
such complicity, and offered to send one of their num- 
ber to Mexico to ascertain what ground there was 
for the charge. This Cortes agreed to, expressing at 
the same time the opinion that Montezuma, after all 
his friendly demeanor, could hardly have favored the 
treachery. He regarded him as a friend, both for the 
sake of his king and for himself, and it was out of 
deference to him that he had spared the Cholultecs 
from total extermination. 1 

When the envoy reached Mexico he found that his 
master had retired to grieve over the fate of the holy 

1 Cortes, Cartas, 75-6; Gomara, Hist. Mex., 96-7. 



city, or more probably over the defeat of his plans, 
and to appeal to the incensed gods by prayers and 
fastings, while the priests supported the invocations 
with reeking human hearts. 2 But the holocaust was 
in vain, for a miraculous incident frightened the idols 
into silence. Among the victims, says a sacred 
chronicle, was a Tlascaltec, who, while stretched on 
the sacrificial stone, called loudly on the God of the 
advancing Spaniards to deliver him. The words were 
yet on his lips when a dazzling light enveloped the 
place, revealing a bright -clad being with diadem and 
large wings. The priests fell awe -stricken to the 
ground, while the angel advanced to cheer their 
victim with hopeful words of a happy future. He 
was told to announce to the priests that soon the 
shedding of human blood would cease, for those 
destined to rule the land were at hand. This the 
victim did, when the sacrifices were resumed, and 
with the name of God the last upon his lips his spirit 
rose to a brighter world. 3 

The downfall of Cholula resounded throughout the 
land, and the Spaniards were now almost universally 
confirmed as divine beings, from whom nothing could 
be kept secret, and whose anger was fierce and de- 
vastating. One effect was the arrival of envoys from 
quite a number of surrounding chieftains, bearing pres- 
ents, partly with a view of gaining the good-will of the 
dreaded strangers, partly to offer congratulations. 4 As 
for Montezuma, his awe deepened into terror as the 
reports came in and the half threatening message of 

' Sacrificassen cinco mill personas para festejar e* aplacar sus dioses. 
Oviedo, iii. 499. ' Estuuo encerrado en sus deuociones, y sacrificios dos dias 
juntamente con diez Papas.' Bcrnal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 61. 'Estuuo en 
oration, y ayuno ocho dias.' Gomara, Hist. Mcx., 97. 'Si ritird al palazzo 
llUlanrcdmecatl, dcstinato pel tempo di duolo.' Clavigero, Storia Mess., iii. 69. 

3 Mendicla, Hist. Edes., 182; Uemesal, Hist. Chyapn, 304. According to 
Arias dc Villalobos, the idol was already stricken mute by the shadow of 
the approaching cross; the angel released the captive, one of 500 destined for 
slaughter, and he set forth to join the Spaniards. Vetancvrt, TeatroMcx., pt. 
iii. 126. J i > i 

4 From the lord of Tepeaca came 30 female slaves and some gold, and 
from Huexotzinco a wooden box, bordered with gold and silver, containing 
jewels worth 400 pesos de oro. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. cap. iii. 


the invader was delivered him. It would be dangerous 
indeed to admit these beings; but how prevent it? 
Thus revolving the matter, Montezuma had recourse 
once more to timid entreaties. His envoy returned 
to Cholula within a week, accompanied by the former 
chief of the commission, and brought ten plates of 
gold, 5 fifteen hundred robes, and a quantity of fowl 
and delicacies, together with the assurance that he 
not only had had no share in the plot, but desired to 
see the Cholultecs further chastised for their treach- 
ery. The Mexican troops near Cholula belonged to 
the garrisons of Acatzingo and Itzucan provinces, 
and had marched to the aid of that city without his 
knowledge, prompted wholly by neighborly friend- 
ship. He begged the Spanish leader not to proceed 
to Mexico, where want would stare him in the face, 
but to present his demands by messengers, so that 
they might be complied with. Cortes replied that 
he must obey the orders of his king, which were to 
deliver to the emperor in person 6 the friendly com- 
munications with which he had been intrusted. With 
this object he had crossed vast oceans and fought his 
way through hosts of enemies. The privations and 
dangers depicted could not deter him, for naught 
availed against his forces, in field or in town, by day 
or by night. 

Finding objections futile, Montezuma again con- 
sulted the idols. Their ruffled spirit had evidently been 
soothed by this time, for now came the oracle to in- 
vite the strangers to Mexico. Once there, it was 
added, retreat should be cut off, and their lives offered 
on the altar. 7 This utterance was favored by the 
counsellors on the ground that if the Spaniards were 

5 'Ten thousand pesos de oro,' says Torquemada, i. 442. 

6 Corfcs, Cartas, 7o-6; Torquemada, i. 442. Gomara is confused about 
these messages between Cholula and Mexico, while Bernal Diaz ignores this 
attempt to keep back the Spaniards. 

7 ' Quitarnos la comida, e agua, 6 alcar qualquiera de las puentes, nos ma- 
teria, y que en vn dia, si nos daua guerra, no quedaria ninguno de nosotros a 
vida. ' This oracle came from Huitzilopochtli. The bodies should be eateu. 
Bemal Diaz, Hist. Vtrdad., 61; Oviedo, iii. 499; Gomara, Hist. Mex., 97. 


opposed they and their allies might ravage the coun- 
try. The emperor accordingly sent an invitation, 
promising that, although. the situation of the capital 
made it difficult to provide food, he would do his best 
to entertain them and give proofs of his friendship. 
The towns en route had orders to supply all their 
wants. 8 

The story is not without a parallel in classic litera- 
ture. As Montezuma awaited the approach of Cortes, 
so old King Latinus awaited the arrival of ^Eneas 
and his Trojan warriors; refusing to give battle, or to 
fight the destinies, and curbing his impetuous people 
by quoting the oracle. 

Along the western horizon of Cholula, at a distance 
of eight leagues, runs the mountain range which 
separates the plain of Huitzilapan from the valley of 
Mexico. And like sentinels upon it stand, in close 
proximity, the two volcanic peaks of Popocatepetl 
and Iztaccihuatl, terms signifying respectively 'the 
smoking mountain' and 'the white woman,' and indeed 
most apt, the former being suggested by the frequent 
eruptions, the latter by the snowy covering which falls 
like a tilmatli mantle from a woman's shoulders. Tra- 
dition has it that Iztaccihuatl was the wife of her 
neighbor, whose noise and fumes were caused by the 
agonies of tyrants who there underwent purification 
ere they could enter final rest. 9 While the Spaniards 
were at Cholula, Popocatepetl was in eruption, an 
evil omen with the Indians, foreshadowing the dis- 
turbances soon to overwhelm the country. Interested 
by a sight so curious and novel, and desirous of 
ascertaining for himself and the king the " secret 
of this smoke," Cortes consented to let Ordaz ascend 
the volcano. The Indians sought to dissuade him 

8 Cortes, Cartas, 77. Bemal Diaz relates that six chiefs brought this mes- 
sage, together with a number of gold jewels, worth upward of 2000 pesos, 
and some loads of robes. Hist, Verdad. , 62. Most authors are, like Gomara, 
■amewhat confused about these messages. 

9 Gomara, J list. Max., 96. 'Algunos querian decir que era boca del in* 
fierno.' Motolinia, Hist, hid., 180; Torquemada, i. 436-7. 


from an undertaking which had never been attempted, 
and which would in their opinion surely involve the 
life of him who ventured on it. This made Ordaz only 
more eager to exhibit his daring, and joined by nine 
men he set out under the guidance of some citizens 
and carriers who had been persuaded to go part of 
the way. They had not climbed far into the cooler 
region before the quaking ground and ash-rain caused 
the party to halt. Ordaz and two of his men con- 
tinued, however, beyond the limits of vegetation, and 
over the stones and bowlders which covered the sandy 
expanse fringing the region of perpetual snow. At 
one time the outburst of ashes and heated stones 
obliged them to seek shelter for an hour, after which 
they sturdily climbed onward, turning from their path 
for a while by the projecting rock now known as Pico 
del Fraile, and almost losing themselves in the ash- 
covered snow. One more effort they made, despite the 
difficulties encountered in the rarefied atmosphere of 
this altitude, and finally they reached the summit, 
more than seventeen thousand seven hundred feet 
above the level of the sea. A short distance to the 
north rose the consort peak, three thousand feet less 
in height, and at their feet extended the field of their 
future campaign, in the valley to the east. The crater 
was nearly half a league in width, though not deep, 
and presented the appearance of a caldron of boiling 
glass, as says Gomara. The situation was too op- 
pressive to permit of further observations, and after 
securing some snow and icicles as trophies, the men 
hastened to retrace their steps by the. already trodden 
path. On their return they were received with great 
demonstration, the natives in particular extolling their 
deed as something superhuman. 10 

10 'Vinieron muchos Indios abesarles la ropa, y a verlos, como por milagro, 
6 como a dioses. ' Gomara, Hist. Mex. , 96. According to Cortes they failed 
to reach the summit, although coming very near to it. But this statement is 
open to doubt, for Cortes is not liberal in according credit to others where it 
might tend to call attention from himself, particularly to a man like Ordaz, 
who had, until quite lately, been his most bitter opponent. Gomara had 
evidently good authority for his statement, since he in this case failed to fol- 


While preparing to leave Cholula, Cortes was 
startled by news from Villa Rica of a conflict with 
Mexicans, resulting in the death of Escalante and 

low his patron's version; and Bernal Diaz, who is always ready to contradict 
him, and who was no friend of Ordaz, does also admit that he reached the 
summit. He gives him only two companions, however, and starts them from 
Tlascala. Hist. Verdad., 55. Leading modern authors are inclined to doubt 
their success. Prescott, Brasseur de Bourbourg, and others, from a misin- 
terpretation of CorteV text, allow the ascent to be made while the army was 
camped on the summit of the range, en route for Mexico. 

Ordaz no doubt claimed to have reached the summit, since the emperor 
granted him a coat of arms, wherein the achievement is commemorated by a 
blazing mountain. Had he not merited it, his many jealous companions would 
surely have raised a clamor. He became also a knight of Santiago, in acknowl- 
edgment of his services during the conquest. Having beside acquired great 
wealth, he might have rested on his laurels; but eager to emulate his late chief, 
he in 1530 petitioned for and obtained the governorship of the tract between 
Rio Maranon and Cabo de la Vela, in South America, with a right to ex- 
tend the conquest. After suffering great hardship there he